4Th Grader Not Reading Well:(

Updated on January 22, 2010
N.F. asks from Wyoming, MI
13 answers

My problem is that my 4th grader is not doing well in reading. Her main problem is comprehension. She can read the same thing 3 times and still not get what she just read. Ive talked to her teacher who seems to think if she reads everyday it will get better. But i guess i dont think so. Her grade is just getting worse. Know that school is half over it is really concerning me. I was wondering if any of you out there have had this problem and if so what helped your child?? I refuse to let her fall to behind and right now that is starting to happen. Please help, Thanks N.

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answers from Detroit on

Is it possible that she has ADD or ADHD? I have ADD and have the exact same problem. See what you can do to get her tested at school for any learning problems.

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answers from Detroit on

As a teacher I know everyone is going to jump to having her tested for x, y, and z. As a mom, I'm going to tell you that the school will intervene when she needs testing (it's their legal obligation). As a mom, I'm going to recommend that you be your daughters greatest ally at this time. Very often, children can academically regress when they are stressed. My response would be read to her. Yes, she needs to read 10-20 minutes a day but if she's struggling, she's not reading at HER interest level. Find a genre that she likes. Find a book that looks interesting and YOU read it to HER. (There are TONS of pop culture books Hannah Montana, books created after a popular movie, etc). The desire to read for pleasure can over come disabilites or difficulties. Be patient and recognize she is a little person with her own faults and insecurities. Be her ally, be her advocate and let her show you who she can and wants to be.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I notice comments from several teachers; I'm not a teacher, but wanted to add my two cents. My daughter was struggling with reading and spelling. We approached her 5th grad teacher to have her tested for dyslexia. The teacher poo-pooed the idea, saying that it would just give her an "excuse" for doing poorly. Finally, we paid for her testing ourselves. Sure enough, she was mildly dyslexic. The schools don't always provide the testing, despite their "legal obligation", because then they have to provide assistance, and with school districts struggling, they really don't want to spend the money to do that. If YOU think there's something wrong, have her checked!



answers from Detroit on

I used to teach elementary school. For kids like her, I would use imagery. Whenever you are reading, stop her frequently and ask her to completely describe the images that she has in her mind. If she doesn't have any images, then coach her to create them. Ask her what characters look like, where the characters are, the scenes, the clothing, anything. Some kids just don't get that connection that they need to be paying attention to those details. Once that light turns on and she starts creating images and being able to describe them, then she'll be able to follow the story line and understand what is going on in the book. If all of her books have pictures, then read aloud to her and have her tell you the images after each page without showing her the pictures. You may have to model for her what it means to create images in your mind and be able to talk about them.



answers from Jackson on

N. -

I feel for you. My son has similar problem in that he doesn't like to read and is at the lower level for his grade. He also gets extra help with Math. Last year the school sent home a vision survey for me to fill out. Not so much about his vision in regards to 20/20, but other aspects like eye teaming, tracking etc. There is so much more to vision than 20/20. I brought him to a developmental pediatric optometrist for a complete evaluation. He was found to have convergence insufficiency -where the eyes tend to want to look outward while doing close up work. This is a treatable condition with vision therapy. He started this week and I am very hopeful that it is going to help him tremendously in school. There are a lot of success stories I've read about vision therapy. I've learned a valuable lesson that all children should be evaluated by a pediatric optometrist, preferably before they start school. Unfortunately, kids with undiagnosed vision problems often get mis-diagnosed as have a learning disability or ADD or ADHD because if it is uncomfortable for you to read or look at things in your daily activities, you won't be able to focus on what you are supposed to be doing. Here are a couple of web sites which have great info on on vision affects learning. www.childrensvision.com and www.eyecanlearn.com
I'm not saying there is something wrong with your daughters eyes, but at least check it out. I'm so glad that I did. It is not enough to rely on the schools vision screening or that which is done the MD's office. I wish I would have done it sooner.
Good luck to you. Please keep us posted.




answers from Chicago on

Well, I'm a fourth grade teacher, so I'm hoping I can give you some help.

First, have her read EVERY night for at least 10 minutes (20 would be better). It doesn't matter what she reads, but what is important is to have it be at her ability level. How can you tell if it's right for her? Use the 5-finger test. Have her read one page to you (just randomly open the book). As she reads, for every word she comes across that she either can't read or doesn't understand, she holds up a finger. If she gets to five before the end of the page, the book is too hard for her. Kids need to understand 95% of the words they read in order to comprehend.

After she's read, try asking some basic comprehension questions. What is this story about? Who are the characters? How would you describe them? What do you think is going to happen next? Why do you think so? What do you think is important to remember?

Two things that truly increase comprehension is the opportunity to discuss and write about your reading. Have her talk with you about what she's read, and then have her write about it. It doesn't have to be a lot, and it doesn't always have to be a summary. She can respond to something a character did, predictions she has, if she's liking the book, or anything else.

I hope this helps!! Good for you to be such a concerned, involved parent!!



answers from Detroit on

Maybe pick up a homeschooling curriculum to do on the side with her. Many of my friends have used headsprout, but I think it may be for younger kids. Check out this site for reviews for many different programs:




answers from Chicago on

A child having ADD or ADHD does not automatically mean a child is not capable of comprehending. My son was diagnosed with ADD he reads well above grade level and his comprehension is great. I just wanted o dispel that myth. But, N. as you do things with your daughter ask her questions. For instance, as you prepare for things ask her questions about the order in which you will preform task. Let's say you are baking ask her what the ingredients are (simple recipe...Jiffy cornbread) you read what is required: milk, eggs, cornbread mix read them in the order you will put them in. Then ask her: "what are the ingredients that we need?" Let her repeat them back to you in the order they should go. Practice this with your daily routines..you will be amazed how we train the brains of our children through practice. Also, my son use to love listening to stories: for example Adventures in Odyssey, Down Giliad's Lane, Disney stories you can buy or borrow from the library. I would listen to the stories an ask questions about the characters and the plot. Once again, fun activities and they are learning and developing as they go. It's fun informal and most of all your not reinforcing a deficit, but you are encouraging growth in a positive way. Stay positive speak success in her life, tell her she is a "good reader" and she will grow into it!!

Wish you well!!



answers from Detroit on

Hi N.,

I am a speech language pathologist in a local high school. A couple of questions...How is your daughter's comprehension when information is presented orally? Can she recall/follow multiple step directions or does she forget what she is suppose to do half way through?

I agree with everyone else that you want to try a variety of interventions before getting her tested. Having her read for 10 to 20 minutes a day is a great start even if it is a magazine. After she reads something have her tell you the who, what, and where of what she read. Then have her tell you what she thinks of what she read...did she like it, not like it, agree with it and so on.

If you are noticing she is having comprehension problems both with reading and orally then you may want to look at her language skills. I would be more then happy to give you more information on language skills and impairments but once again I would work with the schools and try some interventions before having her tested.

If you want more information let me know. Hope that wasn't too confusing!




answers from Detroit on

Try having her read something then putting together a sequence board. You can make pictures and have her put them in order according to the story she just read.

Also, when she reads something question her. What happened first? Where did the dog run to? Things like that.

I had the same problem with my daughter...she's only in 1st grade but still, she had comprehension problems when being read to. I found that it helped a great deal to work with her and ask questions about what she read or IS reading. She is a great reader and is even reading above her grade level.

You can probably find great resources about working through reading comprehension problems online.

Good luck and happy reading =)



answers from Lansing on


Why don't you try giving her some one on one time everyday at home first and see if there is some improvement. She probably just needs more time and practice. After reading some short stories or books, ask her questions about what she read. Try things that are interesting to her. Education is the job of parents too so don't rely completely on the school. You could also ask the teacher about special reading programs offered through the school. My son was in one called Title 1 reading which helped him a lot. We eventually went to Sylvan Learning Center to get help with his math. They told us that the problems he had early on with reading affected his ability to do math. I'm sure they would have programs for reading comprehension too. It is a very good program.

Good luck,




answers from Detroit on

Hi N.,

In response to your question...try using graphic organizers designed to assist with reading comprehension, which can be purchased at a teacher's supply store or even online, like Lakeshore. Sometimes using these visual aides can assist a student with putting the details into perspective. A book of graphic organizers might include anywhere from 10 to 30 activities like story mapping, venn diagrams, etc...And don't rely on the teacher to see that she's tested if needed. Unfortunately, some teachers wait too long and leave that job for the "next" teacher. Don't be afraid to question and demand more. Parents have more rights than they realize...



answers from Detroit on

Does she require glasses or have you had her tested for dyslexia? This can also lead to problems with reading & comprehension. And I believe it takes this long for it to show up in children. It would be worth checking into...

I personally feel you would know if your child had ADHD/ ADD at this point. (Too many seem apt to fall on this disorder as it is easy to blame.)

But I do agree with the teacher... spend time reading with her and ask questions for feedback to help her with the stories.

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