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Supporting Your Child with Reading Difficulties

By Gwen Marshall,
UniteNews Contributing Writer

As part of my job in Springfield Public Schools, I facilitate empowerment groups for young ladies. As I spend time with the various students, I have noticed that there are many young people that are struggling with reading. If your child is having difficulty learning to read, you are not alone. The National Assessment of Educational Progress’s latest report card found that as many as 33% of fourth graders’ reading abilities are below where they should be.

Are you one of those parents who is wondering what you should do to help your child who is struggling in this area? Don’t just give up or believe that your child will grow out of it. The fact is, whenever a child has difficulty with reading or school, it can be an overwhelming and emotional time for both the child and the parents.

The best thing parents can do is to play an active role in their children’s literary development. This means reading to your students, pointing out things in their environment to talk about, using interesting vocabulary, and make reading a happy, positive experience. And be proactive about it, Joanne Meier, research director of Reading Rockets says, “Kids having trouble aren’t dying to sit down to read.” You must make it engaging and exciting, or at least non-negotiable, to read at home.

As an educator I am very concerned about our young people who are reading below grade level or are graduating without the ability to read and pursue careers that will support the American dream. Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix or easy cure for struggling with reading. Getting a kid up to speed with reading takes careful instruction at school, close monitoring at home and good communication between both.
Reading Rockets a national public media literacy initiative supported by the National Education Association which offers information and resources on how young kids learn to read, why so many struggle, and how caring adults can help. They share the following important tips for parents:
• Find out if your child needs extra help: Ask questions to your child’s teachers such as – Do you think my child is having trouble with reading? What specific trouble is my child having? What can I do to help my child at home?
• Consult with the school and other parents: The best thing that can happen is for parents, teachers, and other professionals to begin talking together to plan ways to help a child overcome or cope with his or her reading difficulties.
• Inform yourself of your options: There is a law – the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) – that ensures that children diagnosed with a learning disability will receive special school services (for free).
• Ask the school to evaluate your child: Send the school principal a written evaluation request. Write a short letter to your child’s principal to request that the school’s specialists review your child’s progress. This request should go to a “screening committee” at the school. If it is determined that your child needs extra help, the school may be able to provide this either in the child’s regular classroom or with a specialist.
•Consider hiring a tutor: Inquire at your school about the availability of tutoring. There are also many other tutoring options including private tutors, tutoring centers, educational therapists, and formalized programs.
• Support your child at home: Provide academic support. Learning is hard work, especially when a child struggles with reading. Although you don’t want to put extra academic pressure on your child, there are some effective things you can do to help him or her overcome or cope with reading difficulties, for example helping with phonemic awareness, decoding, and reading comprehension, just to name a few areas.
• Provide emotional support: Probably the most important thing you can do as a parent is to let your child know how much you value him or her as a unique and special person! Self-esteem often takes a hit when children struggle with reading or school. Let the know that learning is a process and to be patient with themselves as you are patient with them.

One thing you must remember as a parent or gradian of a child that is having difficulties with reading is to never give up. You are your child’s best advocate, so keep asking, learning, and acting to ensure that he or she has the best opportunity to succeed at reading, at school, and therefore at life.

Up Coming Events:
April 26,2024 April Break (Students Out of school)

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