Q:

Is there any way I can figure out what reading problems my child may have? She is reading slightly below grade level in second grade. How can I help her improve? -- Seeking Help

A:

You never want a child to be reading below grade level. Children who are likely to be good readers will be reading on grade level by third grade. Now is certainly the right time to work on improving your child's reading level.

The easiest way to pinpoint what problem or problems your child is having is by talking with her teacher. You can also do some research on readingrockets.org by searching for "Target the Problem." The site describes five of the most common reading problems, which are:

  • -Phonological and phonemic awareness (ability to focus on and manipulate individual sounds in individual words).
  • -Word decoding and phonics (ability to recognize unfamiliar words quickly).
  • -Vocabulary (words children need to understand when reading).
  • -Fluency (reading with speed, accuracy and expression).
  • -Comprehension (understanding what is read).

What is great about "Target the Problem" is that it clearly describes a problem and then tells what children, parents and teachers can do to resolve each problem.

Once you have talked to the teacher and done some research on your own, you and the teacher should determine how both of you can work together to help your child become a better reader.

There are also several techniques on our Dear Teacher website (DearTeacher.com) under Skill Builders: Reading that are easy for parents to do and also effective. NIM has parents and children reading aloud together. Repeated Reading has children reading the same passage several times. Recorded Reading has children listening to recorded stories and passages.