10 Signs of a Struggling Reader and What You Can do About it

10 Signs of a Struggling Reader and What You Can do About it

You may be one of those people that wonders if your child is struggling with reading.  All kids develop at different rates and each grade level has different
expectations.  Here you are going to learn what signs to look for and identify if your child fits in that category.  You will also have the opportunity to take a look to see what you can do for your child if she is struggling with that area.  At the end of this post there is a video of a call that I did teaching parents what they can do to determine if their child is struggling.  So here are the 10 signs to look for to determine if you indeed have a struggling reader.

1.  They ask you to read something for them.Young man fallen asleep after long reading

2.  They ask you how to spell a word.

3.  They come up with excuses not to read.

4. They read word by word.

5.  They can't answer questions about what they just read.

6.  They don't make comments when they are reading.

7.  They skip words.

8.  They slur words when reading and hope that you don't notice.

9.  They keep asking you the meaning of words.

10.  They read as fast and they can.

We are going to take a look at each of these specifically and figure out what the real problem is and what some solutions are to the problem.

They ask you to read something for them

Now asking you to read something is not a problem unless it seems like they are constantly asking you to do it.  The problem is, they are suffering from a lack of self confidence about their reading.  They don't see themselves as being able to accurately read what is before them.  So you will want to find out specifically why they are asking you to read it for them.

Ask your child why they need you to read it for them.  Is it because they don't know how to read certain words or because they need help understanding a concept?  You will want to delve more into it to determine that.

Another thing you can do is ask your child to read it to you.  That way you can listen to see what the problem seems to be.  You will be able to listen to whether they are struggling with a word or they have a blank look like they aren't understanding a concept.

They ask you how to spell a word

Kids that struggle with reading also struggle with spelling.  Spelling is actually a harder task than reading because it requires you to have mastered the phonics rules, which don't always make sense.  The problem here is also a lack of self confidence.  They don't trust that they can write the word correctly, so they ask you because surely you know how to do it.  Why risk being wrong, when you have the answer.  The thing is, you don't want to be their solution.  You can't travel around with them all day long to help them with their spelling.

So, give your child an opportunity to try it on their own first.  If your child spells it correctly, then you can congratulate her and build up her self confidence.  If it is wrong, then you can write the word the correct way next to it.  Then your child can look for the errors that she made and then write it the correct way.  To give some added practice you can have your child write the word an additional 5 to 10 times to begin to lock in how to spell the word correctly.

They come up with excuses not to read

One of the problems here is motivation.  Your child would rather be doing anything else in the world than reading and the thought of having to read sounds like pure torture.  Find out why your child doesn't want to read, by asking her.  Sometimes it is because they just haven't found the right books yet.  To find books that your child will love, you can go to www.goodreads.com and type in the search bar "3rd grade books".  Insert your child's grade level or reading level and find some books that other kids their age are enjoying.

Many kids love spending time with their parents.  Some like to snuggle, some like to be close by.  Whatever the situation is for you and your child, next time do it with a book.  You can simply read to your child or switch off from page to page.  This way you can model great reading habits and motivate them more to want to read.

They read word by word

Nothing can sound more monotonous than a child that reads word by word.  The biggest problem here is fluency.  We want reading to sound like we are talking and not to sound robotic.

Repeated readings of the same text can be a way for kids to break this word by word reading pattern.  There are some fun poems on www.gigglepoetry.com that you can check out.  There are also some poetry theater readings that you can do with your child that can help them with practicing a text for meaning.  Have your child perform the poems to other family members or call grandma and grandpa to listen to it.  The poems will be entertaining for your child, and everyone will laugh.  Making reading fun is a sure way to break that word by word reading.

They can't answer questions about what they just read

The problem here is comprehension.  A child can sound like he or she is a good reader, but not actually be reading to understand.  Being able to sound out words and read them correctly is only part of the reading process.  We want kids to be able to think about what they are reading and make meaning out of it.  A comprehension problem can be based off of not thinking about the words, but it can also be based on not knowing the meaning of words.  Pay attention to what the situation could be for your child.

As you are listening to your child read, have her summarize at the end of a page periodically.  This will give you an opportunity to see if she is processing what she is reading.  If she doesn't know how to do that, then you can model with her when you are reading books to her at night.  After you are done reading a page, then you can summarize what is happening.

They don't make comments when they are reading

As we are reading, we are thinking about what we are reading.  However a child that has no thinking going on during their reading is purely just reading the words and not comprehending the text.  As we are reading many different kinds of thoughts run through our head.  We make statements, such as, "Hmmm...I didn't know that."  We also make predictions about what is going to happen next.  We ask different kinds of questions, and we monitor our reading for understanding.  Lastly, we make connections.  We can make connections between the book and our life, other books, and the world.

This is where reading aloud to your child can help.  It gives you the opportunity to be able to model the thoughts that go through your head when you are reading, so that they can begin to understand what kinds of thoughts could be going through their head when they are reading.

They skip words

The problem here could be phonics or a lack of sight words in their long term memory.  Sometimes kids skip words because they don't want to take the time to figure them out.  Sometimes they are focusing on the next big word that they see.  If you notice that your child is doing this you can have her go back and read it.  If the word is too difficult, then you can help her break it up.

Sometimes though a word cannot be read phonetically, and it just has to be memorized.  To help your child memorize the word, you can collect difficult words on index cards.  On one side write the word.  On the other side you can write a sentence that your child comes up with.  Then you can practice the words that your child has difficulty with and increase her ability to read sight words.

They slur words when they are reading and hope that you don't notice

This is usually a phonics problem.  The child doesn't know the word, so they slur it to try to skip under the radar.  Talk to your child about the importance of reading the sounds distinctly.  This will help her be able to retain the meaning of what she is reading.  Also, make her go back to the word and read it again.  You can try to help her break up the word to read it, or add it to the sight word index cards to practice.

They keep asking the meaning of words

When this happens, the problem is vocabulary.  Your child needs to increase her vocabulary.  An easy way to do this is to speak to your child more.  As adults our vocabularies are much larger than our children, so the more they hear us talk, the more they pick up words and the meanings of words.  It has been proven that children who have parents that talk to them for longer periods during the day have a much larger vocabulary than children who do not.

Make sure to eat dinner together and talk about your days as a family.  Also, the more that you read to your child, the more words that he or she will pick up accidentally.  The more opportunities that you provide for your child to hear new words the better.  There has been no research that shows kids learn new vocabulary words from watching t.v., so limit tube time and exchange it for you time.

They read as fast as they can

Again, this is a fluency problem.  The child has gotten in their head that the faster they read, the better reader they are, and this just isn't true.  There are different times when reading fast is necessary.  For example, when you need to quickly skim and scan to find an answer.  However, to read as fast as you can just so that you can be done quicker has never proven to help out with overall comprehension, so have her slow down and really take in what she is reading.

Motivation could be another factor here as well.  So whenever you have the opportunity to provide choices for your child, you will want to do so.  Kids choosing what they want to read has always been a huge motivator to slow down and understand what they are reading.

For more tips on each of these signs you can watch the video below.  Is there a sign that you have noticed from your child, and you are wondering if they have a problem?  Let me know, and we can brainstorm some solutions that might help.

 

Making Connections: The 7th Habit of Highly Effective Readers

Making Connections: The 7th Habit of Highly Effective Readers

Well, it is that time of year again. My kids are off to school, and I am excited to begin writing a brand new book. I will be creating the book through this blog, and you will have free access to all of it’s content here. This book/blog series is called 7 Habits of Highly Effective Readers and will give you information on what you can do to create an avid reader.

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Highly effective readers make 3 kinds of connections when they are reading.  These connections are called text to self, text to text, and text to world.  Any book a child is reading is considered text.  Let's take a deeper look at what these connections are.

Text to self connections

Text to self connections occurs when a reader is reading something and all of a sudden the student thinks, "Oh, that has happened to me before."  The reader is connecting on a personal level with what she is reading.  For children where this does not happen as naturally, they need an adult that can ask these kinds of questions.

1.  Has that ever happened to you before?  Tell me about it.

2.  Which character do you feel most like?  Why?

3.  How did you feel when that happened to you?  How do you feel about it now.

Being able to use text to self connections allows a reader to make better predictions about what is going to happen next in the story.  They can think back to their own situation and see if what happens next is similar to what happened to them.

Text to text connections

These connections are all about making connections with other books that the child has read.  The other day I was reading a book in RAZ-Kids, and it had the same pattern as Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle.  Since the child was unfamiliar with Brown Bear, Brown Bear I was able to introduce that book to him as well.  Sometimes books are familiar for the following reasons:

1.  Same pattern

2.  Same author, series, or writing style

3.  Similar plot

4.  Similar book layout

5.  Same genre

By making connections with other books readers are able to learn more about how different genres are written, specific author techniques, and so much more.  It gets the reader thinking beyond just the words that he/she is reading.  This is helpful for developing the difficult skill of inferencing, or what my teachers used to call it, reading between the lines.  Making these kinds of connections are not just right there kinds of connections.  They take a separate approach to being developed.  Here are some suggestions to get kids to begin making connections between books.  Image 11-7-13 at 9.44 AM

1.  Read two similar books

2.  As you are reading the second book guide the reader in making connections between the two books.

3.  Compare the two books using a Venn Diagram.  Where the two circles overlap you can write how the books are similar.  In the outer area of the circle you can put how they are different.

 

Text to World Connections

These connections are comparing things that are happening in our world currently.  Kids can often be cut off from the realities of the world, and this is the toughest type of connection to make.  A great book to use to teach about homelessness and what that can be like is Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting.  This book talks about a little boy who lives at an airport because his father and himself are homeless.  These kinds of books are helpful with developing compassion in children for them to be aware of other situations that out there.

Schools really focus on presidential elections every four years.  This is a good time to read books about elections, past presidents, and compare and contrast it to what is on going on today.  Again this can also be done a Venn Diagram format.

When kids are connecting with what they are reading, they are thinking.  Reading is all about thinking and engaging with the text.  It is not just accepting at face value what an author says to be the end of the experience.  By making connections we are helping kids to be thoughtful, careful, readers.

Do you notice yourself making connections when you are reading?  How does it effect your reading?

 

 

 

 

Day 25 of the 31 Days to a Better Reader Challenge: Text to World Connections

Day 25 of the 31 Days to a Better Reader Challenge: Text to World Connections

 

Here in the United States we are in the midst of our Presidential Election 2012.  The big candidates seem to be Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.  This is big news here and this lends itself to a perfect way to make connections with what one is reading.  This election is happening in our world and is something that can be connected with what we are reading.

 

Nonfiction text seems to naturally lend itself to make a text to world connection, but it also works with fiction.  People tend to make less text to world connections with fiction though.

 

What kinds of text lend themselves to text to world connections?  Take a look at my top 10.

 

  1. Newspaper
  2. Time for Kids
  3. Biography
  4. Reports
  5. Non-fiction picture books
  6. Historical fiction
  7. History books
  8. Pop Magazines
  9. National Geopgraphic
  10. Realistic Fiction

 

Each of these genres lend themselves to ways that kids can make connections to what is happening in the world today or in the past.  These types of connections seem to be the ones that we make the least amount of, but it is still important to recognize them.  You may not be reading a book at this time with your child that lends itself to these connections and that is o.k.  See what type of connections you can make and identify them as either text to self, text to text, or text to world.  Below you will find some examples of text to world connections based off of a few of the genres listed above.

 

Time for Kids Read: At the 2008 Beijing Games, in China, Michael Phelps set a record for the most gold medals won at a single Olympics and won the heart of America.

 

Connection:  I got to see this guy in action this year in the summer Olympics on TV.

National Geographic for kids Read:  But all those plastic bottles use a lot of fossil fuels and pollute the environment.

 

Connection: I remember hearing once that it takes something like 200 years for plastic to decompose.

Non-fiction picture books Read:  The seals are dying because of the oil spills.

 

Connection:  “I remember when a few years back when there was an oil spill on the coast of Florida and the pictures from it were disgusting.  I can see how seals would die from that.”

 

Take a look at some of the connections that you make with your child and jot them down.

 

P.S.  I would love to hear about your connections, so just post them down in the comment section.  This will help others with understanding the concept better.

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