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My 1St Grader Is a Struggling Reader: Need Suggestions

I have a 1st grader who is struggling with reading. He is falling behind in this subject only. Every night he has assigned books to read to me. He hates it and its a struggle. I also read to him everynight and have done so since he was an infant. This is extra difficult for me because I am a teacher. Any ideas for reading programs I could do at home? His school does reading groups (teacher chooses a book on his level along with 3 or 4 other students on that same level, read it together, and then that's what he reads at home). I've bought the BOB books over the summer to have him read. Kind of at a loss......any suggestions????

What can I do next?

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have you tried starfall.com online? If he is in first grade it is time to have him tested for dyslexia.

Have you considered having him tested for dyslexia? My sister identified this with her 1 st grade son and treatment is available and he is at the optimal age for intervention. Maybe it is something simpler

Best money I have ever spent! My boys have dyslexia; they struggled reading for years until I found this. Now I have a Sr in Hs who can read at college level. All through school he was 2 grades behind. Now my 7th gr reads above his level. All thanks to doing the Hooked on Phonic sysem over and over! Practice does make perfect in this area.
Hope this helps!

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First and foremost, needing to find out WHY he is struggling would be my first question. Programs, websites, testing for disabilities wouldn't be where I'd go first with this. It's determining what it is that might be going on with him first!

So my questions would be...is it because he's truly having trouble decoding, retaining rules/site words, doesn't like the act of reading (the routine), doesn't like the subject matter of the books that he's reading, etc. Why does he hate reading THOSE books (or is it all books, does he like listening??)...is it too hard for him, ???Then take the approach based on what you find out.

I wouldn't jump into a reading program at home just yet. But there are things that could help him build his confidence if you think that that might be the problem. Ask the teacher what she thinks might be the problem as well.

As a reading specialist and teacher myself, with a background in learning disabilities and behavior disorders, I find that a lot of times students lose interest or motivation because the books are plainly too hard or even easy for them to read--so they start displaying other behaviors. So, if you think that this might be the case, consider finding a qualified tutor, or find out what resources might be available at his school (people or programs). It is my opinion that a program will not "fix" your child to become a better reader or to enjoy reading. Strategies to teach him to make reading easier and to build his confidence will.

Once you find what might be wrong, then try to figure out how to address it. Please let me know how I can help if you find what I've said helpful.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I teach middle school special ed, so I may not be much help. However, our school's speech pathologist is excellent at diagnosis of language processing delays. As you may know, your school district is required to provide your son with a Free and Appropriate Public Education. That means that they must do whatever testing is required to find out whether there is a learning disability. Were he my son, my first step would be to have him tested for Irlen Syndrome. www.irlensyndrome.com (or .org, or .net - I forget. ) The screening is only $100, takes a half hour and includes the corrective tools to help your little guy.

Make sure you are working with books with REALLY BIG PRINT. Some boys just develop later, but as a teacher you know that. I would love to know what you find that works for y'all. Good luck!

I am not an expert by any means, but my sister is a teacher as well. My son is 5 and is starting to read as we speak. He did better reading to her, than to me at first. Maybe you can look into him sitting with someone he is not so "used to". At this age they love to impress starangers. You could go to your local library and ask for assistence, or maybe through volunteers at his school. Sometimes they have the ability, but are too comfortable with "mom doing all". = )

I would suggest you go to the library and get the audio tapes with the books. This way he can follow along and here how the words are properly pronounced. He can stop the tape and rewind, if needed. I would definitely make this an evening event with mom or dad cause he will need your support and if he feels that this is important to you, then he will feel that it is important too. You may also allow him to read and then when you see that he is struggling or getting bored, you read a page to get his mind back on track. To this day, my kids will pull out some tapes, depending on the books. They really enjoy using the tapes to read the Harry Potter books because the words are quite difficult and many of the names I would not even be able to pronounce had I not been able to hear them myself.

Good Luck!!

Best money I have ever spent! My boys have dyslexia; they struggled reading for years until I found this. Now I have a Sr in Hs who can read at college level. All through school he was 2 grades behind. Now my 7th gr reads above his level. All thanks to doing the Hooked on Phonic sysem over and over! Practice does make perfect in this area.
Hope this helps!

I have a couple of suggestions.. first off does he know phonics? That is very helpful.. secondly you could look online or at Toys R Us they have some really great little computer book programs there that are amazing and fun.. Hooked on phonics has some stuff, and so does Leap Pad.. Here's the deal, they have these little carry with you computer bases that you place a special book on.. then the child can learn the words and the sentences by moving the stylus on the page and of course there are other interesting things going on, on that page that make it a lot of fun.. They have them for children as young as 2 I believe. I homeschooled my girls and they all learned phonics first and it was extremely helpful,and they became wonderful readers very young. You might want to start there with the Hooked on Phonics program(if he is not strong on phonics) and then move on to Leap Pad. The one I got for my grandaughter is so much fun and really smart.. (she's 2)it cost about 20 bucks.. the ones for your child's age might be a bit more, but soooo worth it if if helps him have fun with it and become interested in doing it on his own. There is also a little show on PBS I think called WordWorld, it is fun too. Hope these ideas help.

I like starfall.com!

Also, perhaps you can create a chart to track his books read at home. After so many "completed" he can choose a reward (even if it's a night off from reading!).

Remember to tell him what a great job he is doing, how hard he's working, and how proud of him you are! :)

lots of great advice but as a mother of a far sighted girl, I would first rule out anything physical. Have an eye exam by an optometrist, not the school nurse. We thought my daughter wasn't interested in books or coloring or reading until we had her eyes checked. She couldn't see the letters, even as big as they are in the books! All kids are far sighted when young and their eyes change as they grow older, hence the type in the younger kids books being bigger. After the eye exam, I would ck into possible dyslexia also. No biggie, just rule things out one by one and then start choosing reading programs to try. Some may fit right away but if one doesn't, just choose another with a different approach. Eventually you'll find the key to unlock this door!

Hi I am F. a 30 year old single mother of three girls (5,7,8), and I am a High School English Teacher. My middle child has problems with her reading but loves to cook and read about dolphins. So I let her read every cookbook recipe to me. To work on sight words, I took a dolphin poster, glued it to a posterboard, cut it out to make puzzle pieces, and only as she learns them may she complete her puzzle. After the words have been mastered she can hang it on her wall. It costs about $3.00 each time.

We use Sing, Spell, Read and Write. an AMAZING program!

I too am a teacher and what I do with my struggling readers is flash cards. We play the memory game. Everytime they flip a card over they have to read the word. They see it as a game but it is teaching them at the same time. You can also give him two or three flash cards and have him look up the flash card words in a magazine or news paper and circle them when he finds them. This helps as well. His teacher should have a list of the first grade site words for you to make flashcards from.

This can be hard if we the parents put pressure for them to perform. My suggestion would be to act out what the people are doing in the books; for example as you read to him show him your humerous side by changing your voice, your facial expressions, etc.... This has helped my 2nd grader a whole lot. Now when he reads he wants to be the one to imitate the characters in the book. Another thing I do is I ask him if he understands what he reads and depending what his answer is, I explain life situations that pertain to him or our family. this really helps the curious side of him with reading.
Lots of love and encouragement will got a long way for your child.
The school may think he is not meeting up to their expectations but what about you? Your opinion of him matters the most. This world can be very hard on children but don't let their pressure be yours for him.
As a child of God I realized that my potential was always based upon what others around thought of me & my family and not how God created us.
Your child has unique gifts, talents, strentghs, and weaknesses that we as their parents must help develop them the best way we know how.
Encouragement can go a long way for a boy trust me I have one and it has been helping him a lot.
Your life is not his life. He is different and he needs time to develop his talents, gifts, etc... Whatever you do make sure its you the parent that shows him how important he is to you and not the people around you.
Yes, people have their opinions but your the one who gave birth to him and he has the potential to learn more from you than anyone else.
I hope that my advice will help you with your precious son.

Children are our gifts from God and they are our future. Treasure him even when he is not excelling you won't go wrong with him. ;-)

God Bless
Restored, Seabrook Tx

Have you considered having him tested for dyslexia? My sister identified this with her 1 st grade son and treatment is available and he is at the optimal age for intervention. Maybe it is something simpler

Rawson-Saunders School or Scottish Rite in AUstin may both have resources for you. Both are dyslexia specialists. I tried the bob books - to no avail, my daughter is now at Rawson Saunders (notably quite expensive - but she reads without the bowels of hell opening now) - but the other resource Scottish Rite has other less expensive resources. Good luck

I think the suggestions to have his doctor check him out for any eye problems or learning difficulties is a great idea. Does your son have any special interests (cars, animals, etc.)? If so, try and find him books on those topics. It may not be the actual reading that's giving him problems as much as it is that he's bored with the subject and doesn't see the reason to try. My oldest isn't quite 3 and isn't reading, but we always let him pick out the books that we read to him. We found that when we were picking out the book, he might lose interest and wander off. Good luck!

My fourth grade class I encounter one year was far behind in reading. I waited until the six week report cards became due and I talked to each parent individualy. As many as 25 in a class of 30 were reading on a first grade level. However, when talking to the parents I told them every good point I could think of about their child. At the end of the discussion when they were ready to recieve it I mentioned that there was only one area that I felt needed attention, that was reading. Each night I ask that they hear them read out loud 5 pages from their library book. The next day I told the children they could check out any book they wanted from the library. It didn't have to be on a fourth grade level and it could be about cars, makeup, fashion ect. It was for fun. Pretty soon as I called the role I found out they were reading more than five pages. Some read 10 or 20. One of my worst readers told me he never liked reading before, but now he was begining to see a little picture in his head about what was going on in the book. Soon some children were reading whole books on the weekend. At the end of the year the class tested 10th and 11th grade reading achievement on every test. Practice makes perfect. Go from easy to hard very careful not to go too fast or too long. The results will amase you.

I home schooled all of my children for the first part of their education. We really liked the program called Sing Spell Read and Write. The program offers songs along with games that help children learn phonics and the reading rules. It is a fun, low pressure way to learn. Along with that, I made flash cards out of a few words that I noticed that they stumbled on. We would have short, light hearted sessions. My main goal was to keep them positive. I felt it was very important to keep them from feeling like a failure. SO we would be as silly as possible, I would oftern say,"Man, that word is a tricky one. I struggled with it too." Then we would turn that word into a flash card and work on it with about five others through out the next week. By the end of the week or even in a few days the word would be mastered. It is easy to get frustrated when your children are frustrated too and you feel at a loss to help them. Make reading fun and shower them with love.
A few other suggestions are, change the location of your reading space like go into the tree house, take a book on a picnic, let him read a word or two off a menu when you go out to eat. Buy the story/poem building magnets from Barnes and Nobles. They have great words that you can cover your fridge with. Make silly three or four word sentences with them. Create stories together. You can take turns writing them and send them to Grandparents. Encourage Grandparents to write a simple message back. I have found whne we take the pressure off having to read and make it fun all the while showered with love that you will be amazed at what you can do!

It really breaks my heart to hear of a first grader feeling pressure about his reading skills! I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this. What a beginning reader needs is lots of FUN practice at just his level! Or if he's gotten discouraged, he needs fun practice at just below his level. I would talk to the teacher about backing up and playing phonics games with him at night rather than making him struggle through difficult stuff again and again. I have lots of ideas about this. If you think you can do it, send me a private message and I'll try to pull the ideas together.

Does his head hurt when he reads? Try turning the overhead lights off and just using a lamp. Have you heard of Irlen Syndrome? Just something to check out. My son couldn't read more than Hop on Pop at the end of 2nd grade. His "IQ" tests showed normal or high intelligence on every concept except reading. His score was somewhere in the 40's for reading! His teacher did a lot of research and found out about Irlen Syndrome and we had him tested. He wears tinted lenses and can read just fine now. At or above grade level. You can go to www.irlen.com to find out more.

Have you done any type of testing on him? I just recently found out my 6 year old has visual processing issues - which is sort of like dyslexia. If your son seems to be struggling there is probably a reason for it. Talk to your pediatrician and see what they suggest.

Hi, A.,

Dyslexia (sp) is an inherited eye to brain disfunction. I saw a Christmas card from my son in kindergarten where he wrote BELL and it was a mirror image...I should have known something then, but I did not.

If you have not already done so, please have your son checked for dyslexia (sp?). My son is now grown up, but when he was a first grader, his wonderful and proactive teacher told me "As long as we were doing colors, he was right on top of it, but now that we are reading, he is falling WAY behind, do you mind if I take him to the University for testing?".

He had a blast, played with blocks, etc. It was found he had dyslexia. He was put in a special class for a few hours a day until 4th or 5th grade, and now reads as well as anyone.

Another bit of advice is that, do not make the same mistake I did. I did not tell my son WHY he was in this class and he resented going, thought it was a class for "dumb kids". I did not know that until he was grown. :(

So if this happens to be the case with your son, let him know that it is just to train his eyes to send signals to his brain so he can see the letters right.

Good luck...I hope this helps.

There are some basic things he needs in order to get the "code" of reading. If you go to any "Reading First" site (Florida, Virginia and Georgia have great sites. Colorado as well) they detail the elements each child must master in order to get how to read. Phonemic awareness, phonics, beginning and ending sounds (for a child in first grade) vocabulary and comprehension are all elements that are important.

One of the main things is knowing the sounds of the letters. Not the name, but the sound. Then they need to be able to break words into the sounds they hear. Not the way the word is spelled, but the sounds hear when they say the word. This enables a child to make connections with future letter combinations like ch, sh, etc.

Also, You can download sets of Dolch site words free off of the internet. Building their site word vocabulary is also important.

One last thing. You reading to him is SO important, and he is probably a lot farther in his reading skills than he would have been. Here's some stats: Kids who test in the lower 15th percentile of their class spend 4 minutes per day reading books and are exposed to about 21,000 words per year. Kids who test in the upper 80th percentile of their class spend 16 minutes per day reading books, and are exposed to over 1 million words in one year! Also, the words that children are exposed to in children's books are much richer in vocabulary than TV, radio or even spoken adult language. So enjoy that time with him and know you're doing him a world of good!!! :)

I hope this helps!

This might sound like a weird question, but is it that he is struggling with reading, or does he get self-conscious reading aloud in front of others? My kindergarten teacher thought I couldn't read because I was such a perfectionist that I wouldn't read in front of the class because <gasp> I might mess up! I've also been reading about kids who had trouble reading until they got a dog, and were encouraged to read to the dog, and they improved greatly. Even kids who stuttered quit stuttering when they read to their dogs... if that's not an option for your family, try encouraging him to read to his stuffed animals or other toys... If that's not the problem at all sorry if I'm way off base, but I found that interesting when I read it. Best of luck!

Try playing some different games with him to work on different reading strategies. www.kellyskindergarten.com has some great fun games to make, www.starfall.com is a fun online games. I teach Kindergarten and these are just a few tricks I use. When you all are reading at night have him help you by picking out the words that he can read in your stories.

I hope that gives you some different ideas!!

Good Luck!

A., I know public schools want kids to be reading by this age, but, if you do some research, you will see that it's perfectly normal for kids - especially boys - to take significantly longer than that. Sometimes it's harder for trained teachers to accept the wide variation that is perfectly normal!

Is there any way you can homeschool him and give him the extra time he seems to need? It's a real shame for him to start off his academic career feeling like a failure because he's taking longer to read; it's likely to cause him to hate school, and that's not good!

Feel free to contact me if you'd like...I had to give up homeschooling due to a divorce, but am starting a business that I hope will help me resume. My youngest is in kindergarten and is also not reading yet even though he is very bright...my older two kids started at 7 and 8. Even later than that is perfectly normal!

My daughter has problems with reading. At the local college near us, the students there does free tutoring, sp we took her to that. And it helped her. So you might check into that and see if it might help.

Maybe you could ask him if there are any subjects he would like to learn more about...sports, dinosaurs, solving mysteries, etc...then go by yourself to a local library (Cody Library on Vance Jackson has a huge children's section) and talk with one of the librarians to help find level appropriate books on subjects that he likes. Then use the reward system mentioned below (M&M's or a favorite candy as a reading tool) to make it fun and something he looks forward to doing. {{{{hugs}}}}

My son struggled with reading in kinder & 1st. Once he started reading more challenging books that interested him, his reading took off. He now loves to read. Hang in there!

Make a book about him and let him know that you wrote the book about him. It will intrest him more and the more he gets into it write more. Short stories including the words and sounds you know he's having trouble with. Sometimes I even add pics of family and friends to my son's stories. This has helped my 6 year old alot!!

How does your son do on sight words? I have flash cards that my son and I go through. It's of all the sight words they should know from PreK - 2nd grade and he knows almost all of them. I think it has really helped his reading. He is also in first grade. I don't know if you have tried but find books that are his favorite sport, character and then each read every other page, to get him more excited about reading. Hope this helps!

There is a great book called, "Why Our Children Can't Read and What We Can Do About It." I think it's by McGuinness. It has specific curriculum suggestions for helping your child, and it makes a lot of sense. I haven't personally used it, but it was recommended to me by an expert in learning disabilities, and after reading it I definitely plan to use it if my child has trouble.

Dear A.,
May I ask what school program is your son in? The reason I am asking is that I teach Kindergarten in our Christian school. I have also taught first graders there as well. We use the Accelerated Christian Education program. They use phonics and we start teaching that in Kindergarten. They work in PACE books for the different subjects that builds a great foundation, so they won't struggle! All that they learn is easy for the children to grasp and they really feel great about them selves when they reach their goals!
I hope this helps! I do not know where you live, but I do know that there are ACE schools all over that you might check with to see if they have some thing to help your son!

Hi A. - I too have a 6 year old who should have been in 1st grade year, but in our town you already need to be reading when you leave kindergarten, so we held him back and worked all summer. There is a great website that has really helped my son is starfall.com it has different reading levels for all ages (my 3 year old has also started using it). Brandon is still struggling, but he is not frustrated any more. We also got him the new VFlash by VTech games which have lots of reading, so now when he gets frustrated reading books, he says he has to go play his game so he can practice reading. His teacher said he is very smart and will get it when he is ready. I have an almost 20 year old who wasn't reading by the time first grade started and he was in an accelerated elementary school and it was always frustrated and still hates to read. My 13 year old loves reading and now Brandon is starting to love it too. If he hates reading books try the website and see if it makes a difference.

Good Luck to you

Have you checked to see if he is dyslexic. You may have to push the school to have him tested as a first grader. Dyslexia tends to be inherited.

If he is not dyslexic, my children love reading programs on the computer. Ticket to Read is one for dyslexia.

looks like you have plenty of response, but I am nearly 20, and I just found out I have dyslexic tendencies, high intelligence works around most symptoms, but it took me a long time to learn new subjects (reading, typing, multiplication) It was hard for me to read in first but by 3rd I was reading up a storm. It could just be the level of mental development, too. Different brains can develop traits at different rates. Read to your child so it is something that they will want to be able to do.
You might consider dyslexia testing, there are good programs for reducing symptoms now, and can be advantageous if you learn how to work with it.

The main thing that comes to mind is to not focus so much on reading. If he is hating it and it's such a struggle, you don't want to reinforce a life long dislike for reading.

I would take a day off and observe him at school during reading time and also have lunch w/ him so reading is not the focus. That my help you get a better idea of what is going on.

As far as ideas (but I would still let it be "his" idea or just "back off" if he seems stressed.

You might even tell the teacher that you will be reading the books she send home to him, or not dealing w/ them at all-again, give him a break if he hates it. If we hate something and people keep forcing us to do it it doesn't make us like the activity any more-it makes it worse.

Let him see you reading-books, magazines, the newpaper-you can make comments to your DH or say things like "Wow" to let him know that reading is interesting.

What is he interested in? Could you go to the library and let him pick out some books and the do some activities from the book-like a craft or play baseball, if that's what the book has in it? Even if you just go through the book w/out reading the words-look at the pics.

Does he enjoy you reading to him? Take pauses and let him be "the teacher" and ask you ?'s about what you've read to him.

Sorry-just ignore whatever-I taught for 10 years and love to read and loved to teach it.

The main thing is finding what motivates him to read-if he's not motivated, he won't.

Feel free to bounce ideas off of me via email.

:) C.

Hello A.. My daughter was in Pre-K and started reading! I could not believe it. Her school was doing the Saxon Phonics program for the first half of the year followed by Abeka readers. You can find them online. They are not expensive. There are two sets. The first set was with just letters and letter sounds. Then the second set was putting the words together. She loved reading! She also had a Wonderful teacher. You can check them out online. Hope this helps. Take care and best regards, Colette

as a speechie who has worked with kids struggling with reading in Australia for a number of years, I can tell you what has worked for me. First, I try to work out where the breakdown is occurring, you may already know this for your son- can he rhyme, can he recognise graphemes and relate them to phonemes (letter-sound links), can he hear the first middle or last sounds in words, can he manipulate these (omit them if asked), can he match visually and aurally - you get the idea! Then I work with games to practise the needed skills and build our way back to fluent reading, however slowly. There is a book called something like 101 reading lessons which is an approach to reading some families have found helpful. It uses a coding system to help cue new readers in knowing what sounds different letters make, as you know English is certainly less than consistent here and some peoiple find this helps starting readers. Letterland takes a similar approach with a strong visual cue for the different letters, but personally I don't like it cos i think you just have to relearn it without the cute pics anyway! It might be worth getting an Occupational Therapist to assess him or a Speechie to see where the problem lies. Your job is really to help him as his mother find a way to enjoy and have fun with this, if it is too onerous a task, he could be put off reading for a long time to come.
I have tons of activity ideas if you need some, and you know what skill to start working with. Please let me know.

A., as a teacher I know you don't want your child to be turned off to reading. Do the same nightly assigned reading, but add some other reading throughout the day - cereal boxes, newspaper, comics (even some comic books), street signs, using captions for kid movies so you read along with the action, and just letting him pick out a book(s) at the bookstore. Let him feel he has a say in what he reads - that everything is not just an assignment. Read aloud a fantasy novel or adventure story or let him listen to books on tape and track along. Hope some of this helps.
Ex-kindergarten teacher and librarian

Hi, A.
Have you test your son for any visual problems? I have a son who is 11 and struggled with reading, in addition, he doesn't like to read. I had him test for eye tracking and he tested positive. After an 18 week eye therapy he improved his school performance, although he still doesn't like to read. However, his grades are a lot better. His only problem is reading fluency but that's is due to the fact that he doesn't read enough. If you are interested in testing your son, there are 3 specialist in the houston/magnolia area. Let me know, and I'll get you more info.


I know this is difficult - I have 1st grade boy/girl twins and my daughter is starting to read chapter books while my son is struggles with his take home readers from school. Prayer and patience is called for here...remember boys don't always develop strong reading skills until 8 years of age - keep reading to him and try to find books that he may be interested in. The BOB books are great and there are several levels of those to keep in mind. There is also a reading program that is based on the I Spy books which is also fun.
Good luck...good job!!
Take care,

Have you ruled out all the possibilities of any medical problem with his eyes. I suggest a good eye specialist check him over. Seems there may be more going on.

I recently came across a website called www.starfall.com. It is a wonderful tool for little ones learning to read. My four year old loves it and can do the activities without much help. It is very easy to understand and follow. It starts out with the alphabet, but you can bypass that and go to whatever you think your child may need. It is wonderful, check it out.

have you tried starfall.com online? If he is in first grade it is time to have him tested for dyslexia.

My SD was the same way. she was so behind. I started collecting for her the book series "Magic Tree House". In the begining, she would refuse to read, we would lay down in her bed every night (without fail) and read ONE chapter. Not very long, but worth it. The books are soooo interesting and adventurous, that she didn't want to stop with just one chapter. After a couple weeks of just one chapter, she wanted MORE. She would be required to read only the BOLD print words, then worked up to one page. "You read even pages, I'll read odd pages" (She would look ahead to see if she got more or less!) After another month or so, she started reading one chapter then I would read the next. We went through books like crazy in the end, reading a book a night and finally had to just start getting bigger books!!
By the end of 1st grade, she was reading at a 3rd grade reading level. NOW, my former reluctant reader is in the 6th grade reading at a 12th grade level.
This is not to say it will work with you, boys are so different, but the characters in the book are brother and sister and the get to travel in a magic tree house and solve mysteries. It could be very interesting for boys also. The books are in paperback and usually only $4-5 each at the book store or you can check around and get some at a garage sale.
Good luck.

I'm so glad you posted your questions!!! My name is L. and I am a dyslexia testing specialist in Midland. Dyslexia is the most common reason a child struggles with reading and spelling. Go to www.brightsolutions.us and watch the video, "Could it Be Dyslexia?". It will take you about 40 mins but will give you so much info. The program we use here is called the Barton Reading and Spelling System. It is one of about 7 programs that has been researhced and proven to help. Please watch the video and call me if you have questions. Early intervention is the key!!!!!!!!!! ###-###-####. L.

I got my kids hooked on reading by getting books on tape or cd. Every night they went to bed listening to books. I think beginning readers get frustrated, so maybe following along with a tape will help. My 12 year old couldn't stand to read when in elementary. We figured out (when he was in the 5th grade) that he is ADHD and just couldn't sit still long enough to read. We used the tapes/cds so he at least was being exposed to the books. Once he was diagnosed and on meds, he became an enthusiastic reader. He does still love to listen to books. He has listened to all the Harry Potter books over and over again.

Make reading as fun as possible and not drab. I have a son who had a reading comprehension problem even though he had a high IQ, he hated reading. My mother was a resource teacher and told me of a study which found that children who didn't crawl as infants had more problems reading because it was like they skipped a step from the beginning. Our solution was my son loved collecting baseball cards so he did his school reading and then was given a small reward (dime or quarter, fit your budget). When he had enough we bought cards and I as an incentive found an easy to read baseball book. His reward was to read about baseball and the players. We turned his fun into reading and he built his reading skills in the process.

Try makng the reading materail & the reading time as a game for him, most children will respond to things that are fun for them. Your son looks at this as an punishment, rather than an learning expercince. Hopes this helps you. J. : )


Have you talked with his teacher and counselor? Perhaps they have a good starting point for you? Other Moms in the class? Perhaps there are other children struggling? Has he always enjoyed reading or has it always been a struggle. My nephew always LOVED reading. He would sit with me for hours as long as I was reading to him. When he entered 1st grade and started reading on his own, he really struggled, and started to hate reading. The last time I talked with his Mom about it, he was being tested for GT classes as well as Dyslexia. His Mom had it and I was shocked at some of the warning signs. I hope I didn't just panic you, but I did want to relate the small exposure I have had with a struggling reader. If it is as simple as just a 1st grader who is struggling with reading, you may want to ask the school about tutors. There are some great ones out there! Hope this helps!

Dear A. - To encourage reading keep the TV off until the kids have gone to bed. Also electronic games and computer. This will help a lot. Will take some time to see improvments but I believe you will see improvments. Reading, like math, takes some building blocks and you do not want your child to get lost and discouraged. J.

My daughter had a similar problem. By the end of first grade she was ready to be an elementary school dropout. I talked to the teacher several times and got no help. She just told me not to worry about it because my daughter wasn't failing yet. I kept doing research and trying to find something that would help her. She could read single words but if you put them in a sentence or paragraph she would get lost, or repeat herself, or skip words. It just didn't make sense to me.

We had her eyes tested and she did need glasses for farsightedness. So we thought we had that covered. During my research I found a local eye doctor that tested how her eyes were working together. Long story short; one eye was doing one thing and the other eye was doing its own thing. I also learned that about 20% of all kids have this problem to one degree or another. There are some simple test that you can do on your child to see if this might be his problem and if so then you can find a vision therapist that can help him.

First test: Take your finger or a pencil and put it about 12 - 18 inches from his eye level. Move it slowly to the right and left. Do both of his eyes follow it at the same rate? Does one or both eyes jump instead of a slow fluid movement? If one or both jumps, he is missing what is between the jumps.

Second test: Have him take the pencil and put it about 12 inches from his nose. Have him slowly bring it toward his nose and see how close he can get it and still only see one pencil. After therapy my daughter was able to bring the pencil all the way to her nose and still see only one pencil. This helps to strengthen the eye muscles and helps them to work together. She had to do this several times a day and they were called her eye push ups.

Here is the website for the doctor that we used. It gives a lot more explaination of what your child may be seeing while he is trying to read. If this is his problem, you will understand why reading is such a struggle for him.


They are located in The Woodlands, TX but I'm sure there are doctors in your area that do the same thing.

One good thing about it is my daughter now knows how her eyes are suppose to see, so if her glasses need to be replaced or if her eyes start getting lazy she knows to tell me right away so that we can get it addressed with either new glasses or a little bit of retraining.

If you have more questions, let me know and I will try to help. I did homeschool her for second grade just because her self esteem had gotten so low after struggling through first grade. Since then she has been back in public school and is doing great. She still is not an avid reader but she can do it and it is not such a struggle.

I am going through the same thing...My adopted mom home schools my younger brothers, and she gave me this book..."Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons" by Siegfried Engelmann...I do a lesson or two a day and if he does a good job on the lessons I give him a few gummy bears or M&Ms....He is doing much better now...but then my son is in Kindergarten...Dr. Seuss books are good readers too....I taught myself how to read fluently before the first grade on those....:) I hope this helped........

You might try making him his very own word wall at home. It will be special to him because it is all for him and he will enjoy helping you make it. You can also label various items in your home so he is surrounded by words. Just be sure that you go over the words with him as much as possible...every day if you can. Post-its has sight words already made that you can just stick up wherever you need to. They also come with blank ones so you can create your own as he masters the pre-made ones. I'm not sure what grade you teach, but if you are not familiar with word walls you can do a search online to find out more about how to use them and games that you can use with them as well. I hope this helps!

I teach kindergarten and found a very helpful website that works with phonetic reading and my students really enjoy it. It is www.starfall.com. Since it is on the computer, he might be more motivated to read it. Since this is the only subject where he struggles, you might check into testing for a learning difficulty like dyslexia.

It's amazing to me how many children actually struggle with reading. But yet our school system and many people act shocked when your kinder, first or even 2nd grader isn't reading. My son is 8 and still not reading very well. My oldest struggled with dyslexia and having gotten him through some rough spots, I'm not as panicked about it. Since we homeschool I am able to allow him to excell in the subjects he loves and we take the reading at a slower pace. He just completed his 2nd grade math and is moving on into the 3rd grade math. there are a lot of great suggestions here. Hang in there, try not to stress out about it and I too am going to take him to the library and get some books that he has picked out! I think that is a great idea.

Hi A.,

Hooked on phonics is a good program to help with reading. My sis-inlaw used it for my niece. I also plan to use it with my kids when they are old enough.


M. K

I was in the same situation. My first grader who is very smart had a lot of trouble reading. It was making her hate school. We met with the school (we go to private). Our learning coordinator observed her and worked with her and she thought she may have Dyslexia. We started tutoring and had her tested and she is dsylexic. She is now in 4th grade. A straight A student but she will never be a great speller or reader. We have to spend alot of time with spelling and I usually read to her if she has reading to do. She retains much better if she hears it. We have also just found out that our son who is in 1st grade is also dyslexic. Good luck.

Just a thought but take him to the eye doctor for and exam. This happened with my son too. He needed glasses but also found out a couple of years later he was ADD/HD.
Let him pick out the books that he would like to read.
Good luck!

If you can afford it, take her to a language tutor. My son had a language disability that was diagnosed when he was 3.He is 18 now and is an above average student. He will be going off to college next year. Therapy really makes a difference. Sometimes insurance will pay part of it.

I have been teaching for 33 years. Reading is my passion. I don't know if you have been exposed to the accelerated reading program, but, if used correctly, is one of the most effective programs I've used. It combines reading with the kids natural love of computers, to encourage kids to read. There are points to earn, and rewards to reap. I'm confident that it could be adapated for use with your own child at home. If you google Accelerated Reader, you can find a lot of information. Hang in there. It will work out. N. M

I would suggest getting Hooked on Phonics. I truely think the phonetics approach is good. Hope that helps.

When my daughter was in 1st grade she too struggled with reading and always fought it. We got her kindergarten teacher whom she really liked to come tutor her 2 days a week. She quickly grew to love reading and is now one of the best readers in her 3rd grade class. My mom and I were both teachers but sometimes another person is better at reaching- they don't put up the fight like they do with their own parents. Good luck.

I agree that Starfall.com is a good web page, my son's school actually recommended it. They send the books that go with it home, and there's even a workbook to go along with it. I also like some of the Reader Rabbit computer games.
When you are reading together, you could try to point out things that make words fun, or how silly the english language is. Talk about rhyming words or look for all the oo's on a page. Or look for a book(or make your own) that has pop-ups or flaps that change one letter in a word.
We have a rule that my son has to read his assigned book first, only after that can he pick a bedtime story. But if the same assigned book comes home again and again, I just review it and check that he's learned the unfamiliar words, not make him read the whole thing again. When I'm reading a book to him, I'll usually pick one or two words per page for him to "fill in" so it's not as much pressure. If I can tell he's getting tired, then I back off. I've tried at different times of the day- read 1 sight word during breakfast, read a funny book to the whole family at dinner, part of a book during bath time to see what will work.

Try to find some magazines or comic books on whatever he is in to. My children like dirt bikes and Tony Hawk this is how I got them to reading. They can read these books after homework and AR books are read. You will be surprised at how fast they can get through their homework when they know they have a new magazine waiting for them.

Leappad DVD's are the best. Both my 2 yr old and 4 yr old know their letters and sounds and combined sounds. It is 30 min (while making dinner) and they love it. Has to be fun or he won't want to do it. A book of interest... the computer games also can be helpful. Good luck!

Have you had his eyes examed? Maybe there might be a learning problem of some kind also, some extra testing by a Learning Resource teacher at the school might be the best place to start.

My son is now in second grade...last year he was struggling in the same way as your son. I had become worried about dyslexia, but they don't test for that until at least 2nd grade. He had been wearing glasses since he was 5 for astigmatism and myopia so I never thought it could be eye related. Then, toward the end of the year last year he was diagnosed with refractive amplyobia (which is to say that because one eye was stronger than the other his eyes weren't working together) This condition made reading extremely difficult because his eyes focus differently, causing the letters to shift around on the page. After 7 months of eye therapy his reading has improved tremendously. All of that to say, make sure that you rule out any vision problems. Good luck helping your son!

My grandson had that problem until we got him some help,
It is called Tutor180, you can get his info at www.YourLocalCity.com, in search enter tutor.

that was a blessing, my grandson is now in the 5th grade and doing well.

You should see if you can get him tested for reading disabilities and/or dyslexia. My son has struggled with reading since grade school, they discovered he had reading/comprehension difficulties, but wasn't tested for dyslexia until 8th grade. I believe if they would have tested him earlier they would have been able to teach him how to deal with this and would have been more successful in school. It is hard for kids with reading difficulties (especially boys), if its not caught early, the kids get frustrated and emberassed, and end up acting out so people do not focus on their disabilities. My son is in 11th grade, and in a general education setting, so no one but him and the teacher know about his disabilities. Get him tested.

My son, who is in 1st grade now, started reading this book, when he was 4 years old. After completeing the book in several months, he became a good reader. I would reccommend this book for your son.The detail of the book:

The Reading Lesson: Teach Your Child to Read in 20 Easy Lessons (Paperback)
by Michael Levin (Author), MS, Charan Langton (Author)

I have a daughter in first grade that was struggling to read just a few months ago. The teacher at her school put her in a special reading group with kids at her reading level. What I noticed though was that as soon as she was given the chance to succeed and gained confidence her reading soared.
I used to get really frustrated when we would read books because she would read a word and then two seconds later forget what that word was. I had to remind myself that she is only 6 years old and still learning. Plus reading a whole book for her was hard so we alternate pages. She gets a break and I don't lose my patience. I noticed that she was doing really bad with her spelling words so now we work extra hard at her spelling words and she has had 100% on all her tests for the past 6 weeks. Her confidence now has skyrocketed and she moved up a reading level. I constantly tell her how awesome she is doing and how proud we are of her. Plus anytime she does well on reading a book, writing, or spelling we make a huge deal about it with praise, hugging, and making sure other adults she is close with call her or tell her how great she is doing. Praise goes along way and you will see that his confidence will improve in reading. I hope this helps! Good luck!

Hi, A.!!

I own a tutoring company in Waco, TX and am a certified Phono-Graphix instructor. You have a lot of great advice!! I think getting testing done on eyes, testing for dyslexia, and other preventatives is a must. I highly recommend it, because IF there is a problem, the sooner you find out the better.

I was a teacher in public schools before starting my company and decided to train in the Phono-Graphix method to teach reading because I believe in it. It is a sound approach to language, rather than a phonics approach, and it has been proven to work wonders with kids with dyslexia and those that are just behind their reading grade level. It encourages me that you want to work at home with your son as much as possible, and that's another reason I love this program so much. The founders, Geoffrey and Carmen McGuinness, first wrote a book entitled READING REFLEX, and it is a guidebook for parents to begin teaching their own children how to read. It is a step-by-step approach, they fully explain how to do it, and esp. since you're already a teacher, I think you'll find this method relatively easy to grasp and apply at home. If you'd like more information on the authors, the reading therapy I and others like me provide, and a TON of extra resources that you as a parent can start utilizing, visit the web site at www.readamerica.net. Also, if you have more questions, feel free to e-mail me at ____@____.com

I hope everything works well for you! Good luck along the journey!

The main thing is to read, read, read. My daughter struggled in reading in the 1st grade as well so I made it a point to read with her for 1 hour every day and I mean every day. Be careful to vary the reading material, fiction as well as nonfiction as well as different lengths of books. Try reading the same book several times in a row. First you read it slowly pointing to each word as you say it and be sure to have him follow along. Then you read a sentence and have him read a sentence while he points to each word with his finger. Then you read a page and then have him read a page still following with his finger. Baby steps are very important so your son doesn't get frustrated. As he progresses try having him follow the words with a M&M candy and when he gets to the end of the book/page (depending on the length) he gets to eat the M&M. Also before reading the book do prereading strategies by looking at any pictures to get him to infer who the characters are and what he thinks the book will be about. This will create curiousity which may help him be more eager to read the book to see if his guesses about the book are right. Trust me the time you invest now in getting your child to become a successful reader will pay off!! Good Luck!!

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