How to Approach Reading Delays

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Why it’s important not to wait to get support

Reading is a fundamental skill that every child should begin to master as early as possible. However, some children have a harder time with reading skills than their classmates. Not every school is equipped to notice the signs or even appropriately offer support to students who begin to fall behind. Perhaps there is a natural tendency to “wait and see” if the problem will correct itself with time.

Unfortunately, this approach often fails. Early intervention is necessary to ensure children don’t fall behind. While some children may be slower, others might have a developmental condition.

No matter the reason for a reading deficit, it is important to take steps before the gap widens further.

What skills are needed for successful reading acquisition?

Reading is not something that just happens naturally. It requires learning several different skills to translate letters on a page to comprehensible language. 

Stage 1: Phonological awareness

As early as preschool, children are taught phonological awareness. This refers to a child’s ability to recognize and connect sounds to language. Many nursery rhymes and children’s games are designed to build awareness of sounds through play, songs, rhyming, and language play. Ultimately, the goal is to go from passive awareness of sounds to using sounds and words themselves.

Stage 2: Language comprehension and decoding

Once children have gained phonological awareness, they are ready to move on to decoding. Decoding refers to the process of pairing “sounds” and “letters.” They learn that letters stand for specific sounds. This development of language comprehension helps prepare the child for reading.

Stage 3: Identifying words on a page

The final stage (or the beginnings of reading) is all about learning to identify whole words and sentences.

Why early intervention matters

Good language comprehension and word reading skills must be acquired in the early years of school. A child who does not master them is in danger of continuing to fall behind. Most will not catch up without some sort of intervention.

Children who struggle with reading become embarrassed or frustrated. The frustration can soon develop into anger, shame, and anxiety.

Children who have a learning difference, such as dyslexia, can be supported with early intervention. Waiting to take action will only put that child further behind and inhibit learning. He or she may learn to fear or even hate school.

The window to intervene may be narrower than you think

Some research indicates that first-grade reading skills can predict eleventh-grade reading levels. Those who are behind reading level in third grade have a difficult time catching up. Third grade is a significant jump for students, as this is the year they transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” If a child misses that learning to read timeframe, everything that comes after will be a struggle.

Why your child might struggle to read

There are many reasons why a child might struggle to read. Most problems can be overcome with appropriate instruction, especially when measures are taken early.

  • Phonemic awareness – Difficulty recognizing individual sounds that makeup words (phonemes).
  • Decoding issues – Difficulty sounding out and recognizing word parts.
  • Problems understanding – This may be related to limited vocabulary and background knowledge.
  • Non-native speaker – A child who speaks another language may struggle to learn English.
  • Developmental condition – A child may have dyslexia or some other reading comprehension issue.
  • Lack of specialized instruction – A child with dyslexia, ADHD, or processing issues may need a more structured or specialized program.

Signs that your child might be struggling

A teacher or other specialist at school often identifies reading difficulties. However, there are signs you can recognize at home. 

  • Avoids reading activities
  • Avoids reading aloud
  • Avoids doing homework
  • Seems to get frustrated with simple reading tasks
  • Trouble pronouncing words
  • Trouble remembering and identifying words they previously learned
  • Acts up in class

Older children may display other signs:

  • Trouble with spelling
  • Trouble summarizing a story
  • Trouble with math problems
  • Trouble remembering numbers and facts
  • Trouble following directions (written or verbal)
  • Trouble understanding jokes or common phrases

The Learning Lab can help

While early reading intervention is necessary, your child can be helped. The Learning Lab is a resource for children who are struggling to demonstrate their brilliance in a school setting. This can be due to, ADHD, dyslexia, language processing differences, or a lack of executive functioning skills. The Learning Lab specializes in working with children with a number of delays and learning differences.

Our I3 Lab takes your child’s needs into account. We will create a personalized plan that will support your child. They will have access to programs like Foundation in SoundsTM, Barton Reading and Spelling System©, and many others that will help strengthen your child’s foundational reading skills.

Take our free online analysis to determine if your child could use our services. You will then be contacted to begin our placement procedure; this will give us a better picture of what your child’s needs are. Each child is an individual and requires a unique program created just for them, and that’s what The Learning Lab does!

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