Why learning to read can be so hard

Sometimes reading just seems impossible to some kids

Sometimes reading just seems impossible to some kids.

A Poem on Reading and Spelling

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you,
On hiccough, thorough, lough and through?
Well done! And now you wish, perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps?
Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird,
And dead: it’s said like bed, not bead –
For goodness sake don’t call it deed!
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(They rhyme with suite and straight and debt).

A moth is not a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, broth in brother,
And here is not a match for there
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear,
And then there’s dose and rose and lose –
Just look them up – and goose and choose,
And cork and work and card and ward,
And font and front and word and sword,
And do and go and thwart and cart –
Come, come, I’ve hardly made a start!
A dreadful language? Man alive!
I’d mastered it when I was five!

from The Spelling Society

Is Reading Frustrating Your Child—And YOU? Try this!


I just read a great article on helping your kid with reading troubles. It’s from Brightly, a fabulous site full of super advice for ideas to solve your kid’s reading problems.

The article is chock-full of things you can do to make reading more fun…pleasurable…something they may even come to ENJOY.

Read it now. Then go to the library and let your child choose a pile of “just right for reading” books and try one of these awesome tips. I have, and they work!

6 Tips to Make Reading Fun, Not Frustrating

Third Grader Reads at School But Doesn’t Comprehend

Question: My third grader reads stories at school, but can't answer a single question about them afterwards. What can I do?
I'm so glad you asked. Here's a tip to try.
There are many ways to help her learn to understand. I have one method that really works well if the child is willing to work with her parent or a partner. It could be a sibling, a neighbor, aunt, uncle. Someone in your child's life who cares like you do.
Does your daughter have a favorite book? It can be very easy; it doesn't have to be at third grade level. It shouldn't be at third grade level! Work up to that slowly. 

Tell her that you're going to try an experiment. She is to picture the book in her mind as a video, or a series of pictures, sentence by sentence. Read it to her, one sentence at a time, or one paragraph at a time, depending on her reading level and understanding. 

After each sentence, ask her what she sees in her video or picture. The reason for offering both is that different children imagine or envision things in different ways. Some kids might even prefer to use real people, places and things in their mind's eye. 

Encourage her to describe it and ask for details if she's enjoying it. The longer and more clearly she "sees" the picture, the better her memory and understanding of what's happening on the page will become.

If she has nothing to say, model it for her. Talk through the things you think as you read the sentences, the things you see in your mind. This is called a Think-Aloud. When your child sees you doing this each day, ttalking to her as you leisurely read and enjoy a book,she will gradually chime in. Many kids take it over, before long!

Continue only until she begins to lose interest. Some kids can do this for a long time and feel fully engaged. Others can only handle a few pages at a time. Definitely finish the book each time, even if it takes a few days. 

This is one way to begin the process of showing her how to learn to understand what she reads. There are many steps after this, and I'll include them here soon. 

Do subscribe to my newsletter if you'd like to receivefollow-up articles through email. 

And thank you so much for coming by!

About My Online Tutoring

Tip 4 Parents of Struggling Readers: How to get your non-reader or way-behind reader started

 How to get your non-reader or way-behind reader started:

Select a story your non-reader or struggling reader really, really likes. Then:

1. Choose a short-vowel word that comes up several times in the story, like can, or pet or cat or if or ___. It’s your call. Or let the child pick! <—I like this idea! Nouns may be easier at first.

2. On a 4×6 notecard*, write the word with a brightly colored marker or whatever you have on hand. Color has been shown to help.

3. Show the word to your child, and quickly point out the sounds the letters in the word make, and what it says. Spend no more than a few seconds, or it will be lesson-ish! Avoid that like the plague—this is a book your kid still enjoys. Let’s keep it that way!

4. Ask your child if she wants to draw a hint for herself on the card or on the back of card. Don’t insist if she doesn’t. (Next time she’ll probably see the wisdom of doing so!)

The pictures my students draw often baffle me, but sure enough, they have a connection in their mind to the word, so I just accept happily and smile.

5. Use your finger to point to the words you’re reading. With your child holding the card, pause when you come to her word, point to it, and ask your child to “read” her word. If she can’t remember what it says, just remind her cheerfully. Remember, this is a just beginning step. We want it light-hearted and fun!

6. If she “reads” it correctly a few times, celebrate afterwards! Tell grandma! Have her “read” a sentence to someone on the phone! This really is actual reading: she sees the letters on the card and matches them to the letters on the page. Good for both of you!

6. Repeat similar activity another day, and go over the words she’s read previously in a quick, painless review.

Many parents find this to be a fun and effective way to give their child a successful reading experience.

Use the same word again in this book or others, whenever you wish, but continue to add different words as well. Soon your child may be able to handle two cards at a time, or even come to recognize the word on its own. And so on and so on and so on—we hope. ?

If not, there are many more tips coming for things to try.

Let me know if it works—or if it doesn’t!—for you. I’ll be glad to answer any questions you may have here in the comments below.

*Notecards are suggested only because they can be reused for a longer time. Paper will work just as well.

Note: My tutoring and my free program will probably not help a child who is profoundly disabled. I do help kids with learning disabilities, dyslexia, mild Down’s Syndrome, dysgraphia, and many other kids who struggle to learn reading for various other reasons.

Many kids just “miss a little something” the first time around, and that stops them from going further. What seems like an overwhelming failure is just something that is missing, and is easy to teach again, using my very different style of teaching.

If your child needs help, do try to find it! If you can’t afford my rates, don’t stop looking.

And keep an eye out for my upcoming VERY inexpensive reading program.