Why Does My Kid Struggle?
Some kids love to read, other kids hate it. Why? There are lots of reasons … all of them real.
- Feeling pressured to read better and, because they find it hard, rebel against the activity.
- Unrealistic expectations and “comparisons.”
- Sitting still for long times is hard and not fun.
- Just don’t like it.
- Medical conditions.
Click the items below to learn about environmental or medical factors that may interfere with someone’s ability to be a successful reader.
WE don’t like to read
Kids model what they see and hear. If we watch TV to entertain ourselves, then they will, too. We bring our likes and dislikes wherever we go. And that includes our personal experiences with reading. There may be a number of reasons why we don’t like reading:
- memories of being forced to read at school;
- not having much experience with reading in school;
- never had books;
- struggling to understand the point of a story; or
- being more focused on other stuff.
Maybe reading is harder than you remember … especially on a computer screen! That’s okay. In this interview with Margaret Eaton, President, ABC Canada Literacy Foundation on Just One More Book, you can hear about what some of the causes of reading struggles are … and how to solve them.
A neurological condition that shows itself as very poor reading and spelling in bright individuals (adult and child) with nothing else wrong. Recent studies suggest it is related to the brain’s ability to “adapt” to what it has just observed.
Dyslexia can go undetected, and you’ll find resources that can help.
- 20 Questions and Answers about Dyslexia that Teachers Can Use to Reshape Instruction Reading Rockets (website)
- Children with Print Disabilities: Dyslexia Resources via American Library Association (blog)
- Dyslexia Doesn’t Work the Way We Thought It Did by Anna Nowogrodzki (article aggregator)
- How Do I Identify Dyslexia? Reading From Scratch (website)
- Technical Information Paper Florida Center for Reading Research. Start on page 3 for details on how to identify and help children with dyslexia in a school setting.
- Why Do So Many Children Have Dyslexia? What Is It Exactly? Nancy E. bailey (website)
This is a neurological condition associated with motor skills. Dyspraxia isn’t a sign of muscle weakness or of low intelligence. It’s a brain-based condition that makes it hard to plan and coordinate physical movement. Its association with literacy is that it can impact memory, processing and cognitive skills that are used in reading, writing, and communicating. BTW – Daniel Ratcliffe has dyspraxia.
- Understanding Dyspraxia by Understood.org
- Dyspraxia Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment by Medical News Today
- What is the Difference between Dyslexia and Dyspraxia? at ReadandSpell.com
Much of what we learn comes from visual representation. This is especially true when learning to recognize words and letters. Whenever our vision isn’t at its optimum, our learning isn’t either because the connections with the brain are disrupted.
The best way to know if your child is trying to overcome vision challenges is to have his eyes checked by a doctor. Nearsightedness, farsightedness, and muscle fatigue (among others) are among the conditions that affect learning. They also can easily be addressed with glasses.
- The Impact of Eyeglasses of Primary School Students by Love Belfast (website)
- Are Learning-related vision issues holding your child back? by Rob Murphy, with Gary Heiting, OD @ All About Vision
Late Bloomer / Not Ready Yet
Children don’t learn to read at the same rate. Sometimes kids are ready to read by preschool, in other cases, it’s closer to second grade. The key is to encourage reading and help your child keep a positive attitude toward developing this crucial skill.
- Build reading practice into your daily routine by weaving it into other activities. Select activities or exercises that focus on skill-appropriate letter and word recognition that do not put pressure on your child to achieve.
- Turn on the subtitles function on your television. It’s an easy, non-threatening way to match something they want (TV) with something you want (reading). “You get used to the subtitles very quickly and it is a big help.” Credit for the idea goes to Juliana Lovejoy, a Reading Tub volunteer.
Anxiety & Other Emotions
For some children, the idea of trying something new can be unnerving. Things that some of us think are “little things” and which we can easily handle can feel like huge obstacles. Parents, teachers, TV commercials all tell us how important it is to read, and all they feel is pressure.
Their friends may already be reading books. Their parents think they should be reading to keep up with their friends. They may feel uncomfortable reading words aloud. They may be afraid someone will laugh if they mispronounce a word. Regardless of their reasoning, in their mind, learning to read seems “too hard.”
Laurie Adelman (BSN, Masters in Family Health/Health Education) has written a book about helping children who are shy. The principals that Laurie presents in her work also are readily applied to helping a child who is afraid to read. Click here to read an article about helping children overcome shyness that has tools that may help you.
- How Anxiety Affects Learning by the Australian National University
- The Role of Emotion in Learning by Priscilla L. Vail MAT
- 7 Tips for Reading with Mental Health Challenges by Kelly Jensen
IMPORTANT NOTE: The articles on this page are provided for reference and informational purposes only. As science changes, we will also change these articles.