My Child Is a Slow Reader_Part 1

My child is a slow reader.slow reader

My child’s teacher reported that he needs help with reading.

My child is in K1 and still can’t read.

Sounds familiar? If I counted the number of times this topic comes up in my discussions with parents, I would need a calculator to keep track. But it is a valid concern, and I’m glad parents are asking!


Here are the questions that have been tingling in my mind for weeks:  “Why is this problem so rampant?  Might it be that the issue is not the child but something else?” When I tried to answer those, more questions came up—questions you might like to consider. There are no right and wrong answers to these questions.  I ask them merely to bring up points of view that may have escaped you.  My purpose is to help you understand why reading has been reported to be a problem for your child, and what you can do about it.

  • First, the child is reportedly slow in reading… according to whom and compared to what? Not in a sarcastic way, but to help you figure out where your child really stands.  Do note that it matters what standards a teacher uses to assess our children.  If your child is simply being compared to other children, there is room for relief. As we all know, children develop at different rates.  My sister began reading at the age of four.  I know of children who somehow could not “get the hang of it” till age seven.  If possible, find out from your child’s teacher by what standard your child is considered a slow reader.  Not being able to read books by age five is a common issue.  And the fact that it is, says something about the accuracy of the standard… or perhaps the efficiency of the teaching methods.
  • Second, taking into consideration his age and development, why is this a concern in the first place? What is putting the pressure on us?  Most parents would answer, “Primary 1.”  In kindergarten, not being able to read well is not a major concern.  The gap they have to jump is the transition from Kindergarten 2 to Primary 1. Suddenly our children are required to recognize words and read off instructions and problem sums as though they’ve been doing it all their lives.  That is the issue.  Why is this important to know?  So that you can chart your action plan.  More on this later on.


Do you see how answering these two questions could solve some headaches for you?  It clears the fog and helps you understand what the real problem is.  It may not be that your child is slow and lazy.  The issue here might just be a fast-paced system.  Of course, what we can do to influence or change the system is limited.  Yes, I do think that we need changes in the education system to make it more efficient.  But I am not here to denounce our education system or shout for revolution.  I’m here to help you, right now.  What can we do to help our children cope in a demanding system?

Think over this questions for awhile.  I’ll see you next week with some suggestions and some thoughts.  And take heart, parents, knowing the problem is half the battle won!

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4 thoughts on “My Child Is a Slow Reader_Part 1

  1. We have twin granddaughters that are 6 and in K. The were 10 weeks premature, so they have always been just a little behind. They both had a rough start in K, having to pull a card almost everyday and not doing great work. For the past 6 weeks or so they have been doing great and we thought everything was ok. One twin is doing great in reading but the other one is struggling with phonics. She did pretty good with 3 letter words but 4 letter words have really thrown her. We know she is very bright, because she has completely mastered her 9 year old sisters DS. We would apprecaite any suggestions that you could give us. Thank you!!

  2. Hi Nana5051,

    There are many factors that will affect reading development. For me to make helpful suggestions, I would have to know more about the child’s development background. However, here are a few pointers that might be helpful.

    1) A phonics approach is just one of several ways to approach reading. Some children do not find it as useful as others do. However, a systematic phonics approach is a very dependable way to teach reading to most children.

    2) Occasionally, children seem to take that “one step back and two steps forward” principle in their development. In other words, they seem to lag behind for awhile, and then suddenly pick up very quickly. This is due to their individual rate of development, and can’t be hurried. What they need is a lot of support, patience and encouragement! :)

    3) Not all children develop at the same rate. Some children will learn certain things faster than others. Based on this principle, you can try to use her strengths to help her weaknesses. In this instance, she seems to be fantastic at computer games. You could try finding educational games that expose her to words and reading.

    4) One of the principles I follow when teaching young children something as potentially tedious as reading, is to try to help them learn unconsciously. That is, teach it through a lot of exposure, games and activities, and to avoid the routine drilling and tedium. I have found that children learn best that way.

    5) Set her up for success always. As I mentioned in one of my newsletters, confidence is key. So try to give her tasks that you know she can perform, and build on her skills step by step.

    I hope this helps! Thank you for reading, and all the best to you! Coaching reading is not an easy task, I know, but keep at it and you will reap the reward! :)

    PS: if you would like to discuss this in more detail, do feel free to contact me. I’d be happy to talk further with you about this!

  3. Thank you so very much…I found a web site on the PBS site that has lots of phonic games to play on the computer and they are going to be great for Emma. I really appreciate your help!!!

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