Don't Delay Getting Help if Your Child is Having Reading Difficulties
Reading Problems NEVER Go Away by Themselves
If you have a child that is having some reading difficulties now, get some help ASAP! It does not matter if your child is just somewhat behind or severely behind, get assistance ASAP (from teachers, schools, or outside sources), because reading problems never go away by themselves. No amount of hoping and praying will solve the reading problems, and letting "it slide" will only exacerbate the problem over time - because the older children get, the more difficult it becomes to help them overcome their reading difficulties. I know because I work with children of all ages (mostly between 3-9), many with reading difficulties, and it's usually the older 8 and 9 year olds that I have the most difficulties with.
In kindergarten and early grades, it's usually quite easy to get the children caught up with their reading skills. As children move higher up in the grade levels, they are no longer expected to learn to read, but READ to LEARN, and this is where reading problems readily manifest themselves in the academic performance in the students behind in reading.
It's Always More Difficult to Teach Older Students to Read, the RIGHT Way...
I have always found that it becomes more difficult to teach older children to read phonetically than younger children. The problem is not with the students themselves, but it is how the students are taught to read in schools that cause so much problems. The terrible habits of reading by memorizing and recognizing word shapes and configurations become more entrenched in older students, and it often becomes a bit of a struggle to break this insidious habit instilled in students by how reading is taught at schools!
For example, I get older 8 and 9 year old students (Grades 3-4) that are behind in reading. Some of these students are actually seemingly "fluent" readers, in that they are able to read some passages with relative ease - and you would think that they are quite good at reading - yet, with other passages, they make mistakes left and right, and they will stutter, and have great difficulties working through the passage. This is a telltale sign of a sight reader - a student that is able to recognize many words by "sight" (as in shape memorization), and this same student will not be able read or pronounce an unfamiliar word, and will automatically replace and make assumptions for words based on context. This same student will have great difficulties in distinguishing the difference between words such as "hunt" vs "hurt", or "barn" vs "born" vs "burn". (my favorite examples.)
This "relative ease" at reading passages that contain mostly words they're familiar with and have memorized, really masks the underlying problem - what is this same student to do when encountering unfamiliar or never-seen-before words? Guess? This is the same sort of problems that semi-illiterate adults face on a daily basis. You just can't "guess" to get through life!
Yet, this is exactly what schools teach.
I typically have a little more difficulty in trying to teach these older sight readers to read phonetically because their poor reading habits are so entrenched such that they are somewhat resistant to wanting to read phonetically - this is because at their stage, it is just "easier" to read the words they've memorized rather than to actually understand how and why words sound the way they do by "sounding it out". Furthermore this process of "sounding out" words will seem TEDIOUS and SLOW to them. The thinking usually goes something like this: "Why do I need to sound out words when I already know them?!" I make it a goal to help these student realize that it is through this initially "slow and tedious" process of sounding out words, that enables them to become fluent phonetic readers, where they can almost read any word on the fly - even words they've never seen before - and not have to guess or memorize word shapes!
These students tend to resist it because your are forcing them to change their visual pattern recognition process from looking at words as entire shapes to looking at words as made up of individual sound units represented by letters which contain unique audio and visual characteristics!
With the younger K to Grade 2 students I work with, it's always easier to teach them to "sound it out", and I don't have to constantly remind them to "sound it out" during the lessons. For these younger students, they are generally still in the earlier stages of learning where their bad habits of reading by memorizing word shapes are still not fully established, making it easier to teach these younger students.
The point I'm trying to make here is that if you have a child in the earlier grades that is having some reading difficulties, seek some help now, rather than put it off for a later time and hope that this will somehow resolve itself. In almost all situations of reading difficulties, the problem will never resolve itself, and if left to later grades as discussed above, it becomes much more difficult to correct. The sooner you catch the reading difficulties and do something about it, the better. And if you were to look for a tutor or reading teacher make sure they teach using phonics and not the whole language method by teaching sight words. After all, it is the teaching of sight words in schools that caused reading problems for your child in the first place!
If you are concerned about your child's reading difficulties, you can make a world of difference in their lives by spending just 10 to 15 minutes a day teaching them to read using our unique and proven reading program that teaches children to read through a combination of synthetic phonics and phonemic awareness development.