How to Identify and Support your Child’s Reading Difficulties

Author: Lara Ragpot

Learning how to read and being able to read well is a skill that we use through-out our lives. As a parent or educator it is important to identify if the child has a reading difficulty and get help as soon as possible. Here are two common reading problems children experience when learning to read. If you find any of these difficulties while doing your young child’s reading time with him/her, it is important to contact the teacher as quickly as possible. This is because poor reading may affect other skills like mathematics and general learning of content at school.

Reading Problem How you can help at home
The child does not process the printed words phonetically:

When children learn to read they must learn to make a connection between the written word on paper, which uses written letters (these are called graphemes) and identify the corresponding sounds of these written letters (these are called phonemes). Only later when children start reading fluently can they read whole words at once. Usually one can see if the child is unsure of the phoneme for the written word when they just guess while reading instead of ‘sounding-out’ the different parts of the word.

When you practice reading at home try the following:

You can help the child by practicing the different sounds for the written parts of words again. Usually children learn this sound for sound (one phoneme at a time) in grade 1. Go back to the original sounds and practice these again until the child identifies them easily from the written graphemes.


Choppy Sounding Out / Unable to Blend Smoothly:

This happens when the child reads each part of the word separately and cannot in the end put the sounds together to make a word. The result is choppy reading.


Let your child sit next to you and read together:

If your child follows your reading of a piece of writing, by sitting next to you, you are leading by example. In this way you can show them how to blend sounds. If your child keeps on showing difficulty with this skill you will have to ask the child’s teacher to give you blending exercises. If the child ‘chops’ or segments sounds apart as they sound out they need instruction so they learn how to smoothly blend sounds together.

Not Paying Attention to Detail: 

The child needs to carefully process all the letters in words. Problems with attention to detail include missing sounds, adding sounds that are not present, missing endings and other details. Accuracy is very important.


Sit with your child and practice the following:

Help your child to learn to process words carefully and pay attention to detail. You can read while they are sitting next to you and let your finger follow the words. In this way they get an example of how to read by paying attention to detail. The child can also in the beginning use his/her finger to track their eyes while reading.



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