Is Reading Hard?

What are the Skills Needed to be a Good Reader?

There has been a lot of research undertaken during the last few decades that has helped us to learn about the skills that are needed to be a good reader.

In 2000, The National Reading Panel in the U.S. published a report called: Teaching Children to Read: An Evidenced-Based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading and its Implications for Reading Instruction

They determined that to become a good reader, one must develop the 5 Pillars of Reading

Phonemic Awareness – is being able to identify, manipulate, and substitute the smallest units of sounds, which are the building blocks of speech and the foundation of learning to read.

Phonics -is making sound-letter correspondences. This requires linking sounds and matching them to the letters to decode words while reading, and encoding the sounds into letters while spelling.

Fluency – is being able to read accurately and automatically, at an appropriate pace and with expression. Fluency is the bridge between word recognition and comprehension.

Vocabulary – is knowing what the words mean. Better understanding of the meaning of the words leads to greater comprehension.

Comprehension – is being able to extract meaning, evaluate information, and process ideas.

Is Reading Hard?

Are some of these reading skills so challenging that they impact your child’s ability to read and/or understand material that their peers would be able to read easily? Are they struggling with other literacy skills such as oral language, spelling and writing? All of these literacy skills are inter-related.

What To Do?

Outlined are some steps you may take to get extra support and services for your child. The critical message is this: Get Extra Reading & Writing Support Right Away.

First Step: Talk with your Child's Teacher

Go to the website page Struggling at School to learn more about the process of identifying your child’s challenges and suggestions for how to work with your child’s school to support your child’s learning.

Reading Screening/Assessment

Teachers in grades 1 through 3 will be doing ongoing progress monitoring throughout the school year to determine how students are progressing in their literacy skills. If it is clear that a student is struggling with literacy skills, then the school will likely do a screening or reading assessment to identify the specific areas of need and tailor the reading support accordingly. The classroom teacher can do a reading screening and the learning/literacy specialist would do a more thorough reading assessment. You can also go to a qualified agency or reading specialist to get this initial reading screening done.

Get Extra Literacy Support

As soon as you and/or the school recognize that your child is struggling with literacy skills of oral language, reading, spelling, and/or writing get extra support started right away. The support may come from your child’s school, qualified community agencies or tutors, or possibly a combination of services.

Prevention & Early Intervention: Kindergarten through Grade 3 is a critical developmental stage for emerging readers. If there is an indication that your child is not meeting developmental milestones in reading and writing, do NOT wait until grade 3 or later to address the issues. Get on it right away!
View the article in LEARN MORE – Reading 101; A Guide for Parents. It describes the developmental milestones for typical readers.

Older Struggling Readers: It is never to late to start literacy intervention.  Older students can still make gains in their reading and writing, but they will need more intensive and extensive intervention.

School Support for Diverse Learners

School Support for Diverse Learners provides information about how schools support struggling learners. Take a look at the different approaches and talk to your school to learn how they support students struggling with literacy skills such as reading, spelling, and writing.

Tiered Support: Your school may have in place tiered support for students who struggle academically, particularly with literacy skills. Examples of approaches of tiered support is known as ‘Response to Intervention (RTI)’ or ‘Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS).

Time for a Psycho-Educational Assessment?

If your child continues to struggle with literacy skills such as reading and writing even after receiving extra support and has shown little improvement, then it may be time to get a psycho-educational assessment by an educational psychologist.

A psycho-educational assessment can help determine the cause of your child’s difficulty in reading and other literacy skills. The assessment will determine if your child has a Specific Learning Disorder (SLD) in Reading, other Learning Disabilities, and/or if there are other factors contributing to these challenges. It may also indicate other conditions, such as ADHD. In the report the psychologist will make specific recommendations for supporting your child.

The school district may arrange a free psycho-educational assessment, although there may be a wait period to access an assessment. Or you may choose to pay a psychologist privately for an assessment. About LD – Assessment & Diagnosis explains the process. Selecting a Psychologist gives you suggestions for finding a qualified psychologist.

You do NOT need to wait until your child has a diagnosis of a Learning Disability to start remedial reading. Early Reading Intervention is very important.

After a diagnosis of LD

If your child is diagnosed with a reading disability, then your child will:
-In Alberta; be given a code of 54: Learning Disability
-Qualify for an Individual Program Plan. Go to Individual Program Plans for more information.
-Through the IPP, be eligible for reading intervention and other school support at your school.
-Be eligible for accommodations in school, including Assistive Technology (such as text-to-speech and speech-to-text software) and extra time to complete assignments or exams

LEARN MORE - About supporting your child's literacy skills

Reading 101 – A Guide for Parents
This guide will give you a better understanding of what it takes to learn to read and how you can help your children grow as readers, writers, and learners!

10 Things You Can Do to Raise a Reader
By Reading Rockets
Parents are a child’s first teacher and there are things you can do every day to share the joy of reading while strengthening your child’s literacy skills.