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JK Focus on Reading – Dealing With Common Reading Problems

From our JK Literacy specialist –

Most children will encounter one or more of these problems whilst learning to read. Here are some ideas on how to support your child if any of these issues arise:

Lack of interest and doesn’t read widely

This is very common during early years of reading. Regular reading to a child helps to get them involved and interested. To encourage them to read themselves, you could try to find books related to films, tv programmes, etc. and topics of interest e.g. science experiments, football.  Also, you could relate their reading to practical tasks e.g. instructions how to build a model or perform a magic trick. Children are fascinated by fairy tales, myths and legends, which are usually short and have strong plots. These can also be told to the child, which can stimulate their interest.

Non-fiction texts often have photos and illustrations to intrigue the child. Consider the value of comics, magazines and the internet (carefully monitored). Reading in the environment will help, particularly in the early stages e.g. adverts, posters, maps, etc. Puzzle and sticker books can also be a way in.

Texts are too difficult and child lacks confidence

It is important to try to identify the problem. At the same time, it is vital not to let your child struggle. To avoid this you can: read to and/or with the child; sample the book before reading it, looking at the pictures and any ‘hard words’, or read books on a similar theme but at a more appropriate level. Ask your child to read little and often giving plenty of praise, as this will build a positive reading habit. It is good to identify those parts that the child reads well e.g. “I really like the way you sounded out that word”. If the problem lies with a school book, inform the school of the difficulties.

Decoding problems

Encourage your child to use phonics and syllables (for longer words). It can be helpful to prompt your child to continue reading and then go back to a word, so that they can use the context and sense of the text to decipher a word they don’t know. Sometimes it is best to just to give the word, such as names and places. If your child continues to have problems with phonics, inform the school and ask for advice.

Fluency and expression

If your child is hesitant when reading, ask yourself whether the book is too challenging. With younger children it can be valuable to read the text more than once. Try demonstrating how to use their voice for punctuation and characters. Often we like to relax with undemanding texts and children do too.

Easily bored and lack of stamina

Boredom can arise because the book/text is not interesting for them or there may be a lack of challenge in the book selected. Consider the value of short stories. Allowing children to choose their own books from an appropriate selection is also a useful strategy.

Poor comprehension

It is important from the earliest stages of reading to engage in the discussion of texts with your child; this includes texts read to them as well as by them. It can be useful to ask a question or give a task before they read e.g. Let’s see if we can find out five facts about tigers, as well as asking questions during and at the end of reading.

Inaccurate reading and missing out words

Before reading, remind your child to read with care. If they make a mistake, you could ask your child to re-read the sentence and point to the text. On occasions it can be helpful if you repeat what the child has read and ask them to see if they can spot the mistake. If the child’s mistakes do not maintain the sense of the text it is important to re-read. However, continually pointing out mistakes can be very discouraging and should not be overdone.

Lack of understanding of vocabulary

When unfamiliar vocabulary forms part of the text it is helpful to discuss this before reading in order for the child to enjoy and understand the text fully. Children need to explore and have fun with words using dictionaries and thesauruses. Vocabulary is developed by real experiences, such as visits and trips to museums, parks and other places of interest to a child.

Whatever problems your child encounters, it is important to stay positive and not to criticise.

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