Eight things to do when you’re worried that your child is struggling to read

And we’re back! Phyllis Jordan, my speech and language therapy colleague and friend have 8 tips for you if you’re worried about your child learning to read. In our first post, we shared 14 ways for helping your child learn to read and you can find that post here.

  1. Practice phonics skills. That’s the letter and sound links we mentioned in our last post. There’s the letter name (bee) and the sound it makes (buh) and children need to learn both. Practice over-learning by doing short bursts a few times a day. That’s better than a few times a week. Over-learning means continuing to practice even though you no longer improve; rehearsing at the same level of difficulty in order to really lock in the skill.  Where you can, weave this practice into everyday life like on the way to and from school or after-school activities. And practice in all of your languages where this is relevant and talk about how the languages are similar or different.
  2. Check if your child recognises sight words like come, does, who out of context. These are words that have to be memorised because they don’t follow a pattern in English. We’ve given examples from English here as it’s the language we work in. You will have your own examples from your languages. 
  3. Check if they can sound out words out of the context in which they learned them. Children can become expert at learning off text which makes them look like they’re reading more fluently than they can. 
  4. Check to see if your child is putting their finger under the correct words as they read aloud. 
  5. If you’re concerned, trust your instinct as literacy challenges can go unmissed in a busy classroom especially if your child is well-behaved and is good at learning things off by heart.  
  6. Check if your child understands what they’re reading because that’s important too. You can do this subtly by asking questions about what’s just happened in the story and having conversations about the story.
  7. Talk to their teacher about how they’re getting on and ask for suggestions on how to help.
  8. If they continue to struggle, think about referring your child to speech and language therapy. Spoken language skills lay the foundation for literacy and there are many aspects of speech and language  we can assess to help work out what might be going on.

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Let’s Get Talking!

MP & Phyllis

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