Struggling Readers


Every classroom has a number of students that struggle in reading. Struggling readers are divided into three groups, those that have difficulty reading the words accurately, those that have problems understanding and those who have trouble with fluency. All are struggling readers to some degree or other. The most important point is to make certain that the problem is identified early and that steps are put in place to fix the problems.

Over the years, I have found that if the child isn’t reading accurately, there will be low comprehension and fluency. So, it makes sense, initially, that accuracy and fluency take priority. Accuracy is a complex skill that has a myriad of components depending on the age and level of the reader.

But, all struggling readers have failed in some early reading skill. Therefore, accurate testing is needed to make certain that a benchmark for remediation is identified. This testing should include, phonological awareness ( the child’s skill in identifying and manipulating sounds in oral words) a record of the child’s reading (running record), sight words, letter and sounds (phonics) ability to blend one syllable words and an ability to cut up multi- syllabic words into syllables. This seems a huge, testing list , but, as they are basic tests the time spent is well worth it.

Once testing has been completed the responses are analysed to make certain that the course of remediation is one that will close the gaps as quickly as possible. So, now there is a plan, it is time for action.

The action has to be consistent and repetitive. When the plan is started the child may be resistant and unengaged. Perseverance will win the race!!! I find that once the child is able to achieve, even if it is only a small step, he will get excited, become engaged and then become a reader. Now we are all cheering.
But, it is a process getting to the cheering stage.  Teachers, parents and tutors need workable relationships that encourage communication and support. I find that children who are involved in creating achievable, reading goals and encouraged with small rewards along the way are more motivated and willing to work consistently and diligently. Take the time to source expert help and guidance and your problems will be quickly diminished.

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