Helping Your Struggling Reader


Helping Your Struggling Reader | Red Apple Reading


Some kids seem to be born readers. They pick up on the nuances of phonetics quickly and are reading independently on or before schedule. However, not all children find reading to be an easy skill to master – and that’s alright. Each child becomes proficient at reading at their own pace. The good news is, if your child struggles with reading, there are several things you can do to help him improve his skills.



Read Daily – Often, children who struggle with reading do not relish the task of dedicated daily reading time. However, it is important for your child to read every day. Sit down with your kiddo and work together to come up with a number of pages that they will read each day.

Find Interesting Material – Do everything you can to make reading appealing for your kid. If your child is interested in what she is reading, there’s a better chance she will stick with it.

Find Balanced Material – It can be challenging to find books that are easy enough not to frustrate your reader, yet don’t seem “babyish” in nature. Finding good material is worth the effort! Take a look at these high interest/low readability books from This Reading Mama.

Make Tasks Manageable – You may find it helpful to break up reading time into manageable chunks for your kid. For example, instead of having your child read the whole book, take turns reading with him. If you sense he is becoming frustrated, take a quick break and grab a snack. By managing daily reading wisely, you can cut down on aggravation and increase productivity.

Implement Oral Repetitive Reading – If your kiddo struggles with reading fluently, take time to listen to her read the same passage aloud to you several times. Usually, children improve with each reading. To see an example of this type of reading practice check out this video.

Prep for Success – Everyone wants to see their kid succeed. With a little prep beforehand, parents can ensure a more positive reading experience for their child. One way to prepare for reading is to go over potentially hard vocabulary words with your child in advance. Also, be sure your child is well rested and not hungry; a tired and hungry kid is not ready to work hard.

Provide Incentives – Who doesn’t enjoy being rewarded for a job well done? When your child has put forth significant effort to improve his reading, a little positive reinforcement is in order. Extra television time or a favorite treat can go a long way in providing the needed incentive to persevere in reading.

If reading is a struggle for your child, don’t panic! Begin today implementing some of the above strategies. It will be hard work for you and your child, but most good things require extra effort! If you suspect your child is facing a bigger issue (such as dyslexia, apraxia of speech, etc.) then contact your child’s teacher and ask for a formal evaluation.


Reading Disabilities – Symptoms and Solutions

Reading Disabilities - Symptoms and SolutionsReading is perhaps the main point of focus of the early elementary classroom. Children at these grade levels are busy learning phonics, sight words, spelling, and reading comprehension. Of course, students learn to master the skill of reading at different rates. Some kids pick up reading quickly while others take longer. But what if your child is falling further and further behind? What should parents do if they suspect their little one may have a reading disability? How do they determine if it is a true reading disability and why is it important? Red Apple Reading has some advice for parents who suspect their child may be struggling with a reading disability.

What’s The Big Deal?

Perhaps you’re wondering what all the fuss is about. Sure, maybe your kiddo is not the best reader, but he gets by; and after all, you can’t be good at everything! While it’s true that not all kids enjoy and excel at the same subject, it is also important to remember that reading impacts success in other subjects. If your child cannot successfully read and comprehend his science text, he will not do well in that subject even if he is gifted in that area.

How Learning Disabilities Impact Reading

If your child has been diagnosed with a learning disability, there is a good chance her reading will be effected. According to LD Online, a leading website on learning disabilities and ADHD, “A large percent of learning disabilities (up to 80 percent) show themselves as problems learning to read.”

What is a Reading Disability?

Reading disabilities are often connected with the term dyslexia – which, simply put, is a continual problem learning to read.


How can a parent know if his child has a true reading disability? What are some of the signs to look for? The Mayo Clinic lists the following signs as possible indicators of dyslexia in elementary school children:

  • Reading at a level well below the expected level for the age of your child
  • Problems processing and understanding what he or she hears
  • Difficulty comprehending rapid instructions
  • Trouble following more than one command at a time
  • Problems remembering the sequence of things
  • Difficulty seeing (and occasionally hearing) similarities and differences in letters and words
  • An inability to sound out the pronunciation of an unfamiliar word
  • Seeing letters or words in reverse (“b” for “d” or “saw” for “was,” for example) — this is common in young children, but may be more pronounced in children with dyslexia
  • Difficulty spelling
  • Trouble learning a foreign language


The National Center for Learning Disabilities offers the following suggestions for the treatment of dyslexia:

  • Expose your child to early oral reading, writing, drawing, and practice to encourage development of print knowledge, basic letter formation, recognition skills, and linguistic awareness (the relationship between sound and meaning).
  • Have your child practice reading different kinds of texts. This includes books, magazines, ads, and comics.
  • Include multi-sensory, structured language instruction. Practice using sight, sound, and touch when introducing new ideas.
  • Seek modifications in the classroom. This might include extra time to complete assignments, help with note taking, oral testing, and other means of assessment.
  • Use books on tape and assistive technology. Examples are screen readers and voice recognition computer software.
  • Get help with the emotional issues that arise from struggling to overcome academic difficulties.

If you suspect that your child has a reading disability, talk to her teacher and pursue having her tested. Above all, don’t panic. When given the appropriate interventions, students with dyslexia can and do succeed in school!


Special Needs Children: Are Their Needs Being Met in School?

Special Needs Children: Are Their Needs Being Met?Learning can be difficult for all children at times, but when a child has a learning disability or other special need that inhibits him from comprehending new concepts as readily as his peers, school can prove to be a real challenge. Of course, these students are not the only ones faced with a challenge. Parents and teachers have the difficult job of making decisions that affect where and how these children learn and ensuring that they receive the best education possible.


Laws protecting children with disabilities mandate that every effort must be made to place children with special needs in a regular education classroom. According to this legislation, children with learning disabilities and other special needs learn best when they are placed in the least restrictive environment possible. In order for these children to learn alongside their “average” peers, teachers are required to provide accommodations and modifications to the curriculum according to the child’s IEP, or Individual Education Plan. These plans may include special instructions such as preferential seating or certain testing accommodations. Some children may attend resource classes during specific times of the day such as during math or language arts, for instance, to receive additional instruction and remediation from a certified special education teacher.

Is Inclusion Effective?
Most experts agree that inclusion is best for most children, but of course, there are exceptions. Children with severe disabilities often receive one-on-one instruction from a special education teacher as opposed to being mainstreamed into a regular education classroom. There are also some opponents of inclusion, even for children with mild disabilities. They generally argue that a child with special needs requires more attention than a teacher with a couple dozen other students in her care can provide. Some even say that inclusion robs average students of the education they deserve by taking up too much of the teachers time and preventing the class from exploring more challenging concepts. Typically, though, inclusion does work—for everyone involved. Special needs students benefit from greater learning opportunities, and average students have the opportunity to work with a diverse set of peers. Plus, since everyone learns differently, all students thrive when teachers employ differentiated instruction for students with varying skills and abilities.

Testing for Students with Special Needs
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), students with special needs must participate in standardized testing and high-stakes testing. While there are some advantages of testing students with special needs including an increased emphasis on academics and teacher accountability, there are also some serious risks. With more schools implementing promotion tests that dictate whether or not a student will continue to the next grade level, special needs students are in danger of being held back. Since research shows that grade retention is directly correlated with both school dropout and unemployment, this can be a scary proposition for students with disabilities. Furthermore, since many special needs students do not pass high school exit exams—the assessments that some schools require for a high school diploma, alternative diploma programs are now being implemented such as IEP diplomas and certificates of completion. Often, these diplomas have little real value and could be seen as tantalizingly easy way out of the academic work necessary to prepare these children for life after high school.

The Need for Advocacy
No one knows a special needs child better than his or her parents. While there’s no easy solution to the problems a learning disability presents, one thing is for certain—students with disabilities perform significantly better in school when their parents are actively involved in making decisions about their education. Whether it’s an issue of educational settings or diploma options, parents must let their voices be heard and advocate for their children every step of the way. The best way to do this is to become educated on special needs legislation and stay on top of the trends and best practices in special education. If you need a place to start, check out the wealth of information available from the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory.

We’d love to hear from you about these highly debated issues in special education. Do you think schools are meeting the needs of children with disabilities?

Is Your Child Struggling in School? Five Early Warning Signs

Does your child dislike school? Do his grades leave something to be desired? As you and your youngster are preparing for back-to-school, it’s important to keep in mind the early warning signs that a problem may be on the horizon. Returning to school in the fall makes for a busy time of year for kids and parents alike, but don’t wait until parent-teacher conference time to inquire about your child’s academic progress. Unfortunately, many parents wait until it’s clear that their child is struggling before they take steps to correct the problem. By this time, the damage may already be done. To keep your child from slipping through the cracks, take a proactive approach by looking for these five signs that the new school year is posing problems for your child.

Your child doesn’t want to go to school.

Some children like school more than others, but if your child’s attitude about school takes a dramatic turn, or if his resistance to school persists more than a week or two, there may be cause for concern. Talk to your child first, but if you can’t seem to uncover the problem, then you may need to contact the teacher and possibly the school guidance counselor for help getting to the root of the problem.

Your child is misbehaving at school.

Your child isn’t usually a troublemaker, but lately, you’ve gotten a few calls from the teacher about your youngster acting out in class. If this is the case, then you may need to look into the matter. Most children have a reason for misbehaving, and it’s not that they just want to be “bad.” Your little one could be making trouble because he feels frustrated or discouraged. In this case, a little remediation could make all the difference. Once your child starts receiving positive attention for his schoolwork in the form of praise, stickers, and other incentives, then he’ll likely no longer find the need to misbehave in order to be noticed.

Your child doesn’t want to do homework.

I don’t know many children who look forward to homework time, but if your child starts to show an abnormal resistance to it (i.e. crying, shouting, or refusing to get started), then it may be because the work is too hard. The large majority of children seek to please their parents, so your child may be afraid that you’ll discover her “weaknesses” while helping her with her homework. If you suspect that this is the case, reassure your child that you’re there to help and that you’re proud of her no matter what.

Your child gets sick a lot.

Persistent and unexplained “sicknesses” like headaches and tummy aches may be a sign that all is not well at school. Of course, you should never ignore these symptoms; always have your child checked out by his pediatrician before jumping to conclusions, but if the doc can’t find a cause, then your little one’s condition may be directly related to school. Although these “symptoms” may be just an excuse to stay home from school, they could also be a result of school-related stress. Either way, you’ll want to investigate further to discover exactly what’s causing your child to feel bad.

Your child is bored at school.

If your youngster complains that school is boring, then it may be because the curriculum isn’t appropriate for her skills and ability level. Some children say they’re bored because they don’t want to experience the possible “failure” that could result from trying something that they perceive as too challenging. More often, though, kids who report frequent boredom at school actually require a more challenging curriculum. If your child’s grades are good but boredom is a problem, then talk to her teacher about possible enrichment activities or programs for gifted children.

You know your child better than anyone, and your parental instincts may just be among the most reliable resources you have when it comes to staying on top of your child’s school performance. When your gut tells you that something isn’t right, don’t dismiss it as a false alarm. At the very least, talk to your child and listen to what he has to say. If you demonstrate a genuine concern for his feelings (rather than judgment or criticism), he’ll likely open up and explain the situation. Once you know what the problem is, you’ll be in a much better position to find a good solution.

Typically, talking to your child and his or teacher will lead to a solution to the problem. Often, youngsters just need a little remediation or a good pep talk to get them back on track. If nothing seems to work, though, then a more serious problem such as a learning disability may be to blame. If you think your child’s school performance may be suffering because of a disability, find out what you can do to help.

Has your child ever struggled in school? If so, how did you know, and what did you do to solve the problem?