My 8-year-old son is a good reader. However, he has problems with identifying the main idea, vocabulary and summarizing a story. Should I be worried? - Possible Problem


We are assuming that you feel your son is a good reader because he can read the words. While word identification is an important reading skill, he really needs to know what the words are telling him in order to be considered a good reader.

Jump on solving your son's reading problems now; they are not likely to go away without an investigation into the causes by the school and some remediation. In any case, you need to know exactly how serious his reading problems are.

Between help at school and home, things could turn around quickly for your child. Here are some suggestions; his teacher should have more. Try having your son read easy stories out loud or silently and then tell you the main idea. (This story was about a wolf who tried to blow down the houses of three little pigs.) If he can't figure out the main idea, you might need to ask some questions. Don't just do this with a few stories, it will take many stories. Also, the teacher should have some materials you can use to improve this particular skill.

Next, move on to showing your son how to summarize what he's read. You might have to summarize the story yourself or ask questions to help him recall the main points. It's quite possible that your child is having problems with understanding what he has read because all of his attention is focused on identifying the words. By reading easier material, he will be able to focus more on understanding.

When talking to the teacher, find out more about your child's vocabulary problem. Definitely read and talk to him as much as you can to expand his vocabulary. And when he meets a word that he doesn't recognize in his reading, help him learn to figure out the meaning through what is said in the sentence or paragraph.