When should I worry about my child’s reading?

March 4, 2019 by Amanda Davis in Speech and Language Therapy

written by Amanda Davis MSc, MA, BSc (hons)

Last week I focused on my “I, together, you” strategy to support reading at home. I also touched on the importance of language and vocabulary in reading. However, how do you know when to start worrying about your child’s reading? How long should you be doing “I, together, you”? Is it normal for a child to see and hear a word 50 times and still be unable to read it?

These are questions parents are faced with during their child’s first few months and years of school. Unfortunately, teachers are not always equipped with the research to identify when a child is struggling and therefore, children can be left without the right support for months (and sometimes YEARS!). It is often down to parents and that’s a daunting task in itself! Here’s my advice on when to start worrying.

  1. If there is a history of dyslexia in the family, please seek advice as soon as you or your teacher become worried – there are so many things you can be doing to avoid a huge gap developing between your child and his / her peers. If you can, speak to a professional BEFORE your child starts reading – this way you’re ahead of the game (and please remember, a good professional will not charge you for weekly specialist intervention at this stage, you should be given work to do at home that is fun and will fit into your daily routine)
  2. If your child does not know the letters of the alphabet in the first 2 months of formal schooling, please seek advice asap
  3. Remember that it is totally normal for your child to see a word 50 times and forget it a second later. This is acceptable till around 4- 6 months of formal education – in the UK this is Year 1 and in South Africa, this is Grade 1. If your child is still taking a few seconds to recall the words he has heard and read many times before, he could have difficulties with naming speed (which will be linked to sight word reading, spelling and reading comprehension difficulties)
  4. If your child knows the letters of the alphabet but struggles to read simple words such as CAT, SIP, TUB he/she may present with phonological awareness difficulties and an assessment will be necessary

I hope that is helpful in some way. Please remember that until you have the need to seek professional advice, your role as parent in the reading journey is to:

  • instil a love of reading
  • build strong language and vocabulary skills

And finally, please don’t forget that reading is a LANGUAGE-based skill and therefore should be supported by a professional who is trained in language based literacy difficulties.