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If your young reader shows signs of struggling, it can be difficult to know if there is a real problem or if they are simply lagging behind a bit. Many parents notice little things about their reader that suggest there may be an issue in developing reading skills. However, rather than getting it checked out or seeking out some help immediately, they wait. But how long should you wait, if at all?
Research shows that there is a rather small window in which children develop reading skills best. This is typically between kindergarten and the end of first grade. After this, it becomes much harder for them to grasp the foundations of reading and phonemics.
In fact, over 90 percent of children who show signs of reading difficulties are brought up to grade level standards if they receive help by the first grade. For those who are age nine or above and have not received such help, studies show that about 75% will continue to struggle with reading until they graduate. This means that by grade four if they haven’t been provided reading assistance when it was needed in late kindergarten, it will take them four times as long to improve their skills and be at the correct reading levels. These facts make it imperative that help is received by struggling readers as soon as possible.
To help identify these reading issues, it is suggested that schools and/or teachers screen children in kindergarten through second grade several times a year. And many schools agree that once those screening results are in, the lowest scoring 20 percent of children should begin receiving extra reading help immediately. This typically happens in groups of three or fewer and is instructed by an effective and well-trained educator.
Many would say their child is simply a little too immature to handle the reading level of their grade. However, when a child cannot distinguish rhymes, confuses letters, and/or associates the wrong sound with a letter it rarely has anything to do with maturity levels.
If your child displays some of these traits, don’t automatically assume the worst. It may just mean that she was not given the proper instruction during preschool. Once she begins receiving experience with letters, sounds, and reading foundations, she will usually pick it up rather quickly. If, however, they have received proper instruction for some time and still struggle, there may be something larger going on.
In either case, it is important to get your child the help he might need as soon as possible. It is far better to be a bit over prepared than to make a child suffer in silence if there is a developmental or learning issue. Don’t be one of the many parents who find themselves regretting not getting that extra instruction for their child and causing more harm than good.