Target the Problem!
Understand the problems a child may be having with reading, and target what you can do to help!
Look inside for practical, research-based information for parents and teachers about:
- Problems involving phonological and phonemic awareness
- Word decoding and phonics
- Other sources of reading difficulty
Things to be aware of
There are many reasons why reading can be hard. This handout describes
the five components of reading and difficulties that kids experience
within each area. We hope this tool helps you become aware of specific
areas in which a child is having trouble and begin targeting ways to help.
It’s important to note that struggling readers will often have problems in
multiple areas. For example, children who have problems with phonemic
awareness almost always have problems in word decoding and phonics.
The key thing is, don’t hesitate when you suspect a child has a reading
difficulty. Trust your judgment and consider how a child does in
comparison with other students. Parents play a huge role in making sure
that their child’s needs are being addressed by the school. Some kids
end up being diagnosed with a learning disability. There is an even larger
group of students, though, who never receive a diagnosis but who
nonetheless need targeted assistance to learn and read well. Because you
care the most about your child, you need to understand your child’s needs
and advocate for him or her. A thorough reading evaluation can help
determine a child’s reading difficulties. Talk to the school about getting
an assessment done for your child.
We hope you’ll use this information as a starting point! The best thing
that can happen is for parents, teachers, and other professionals to
begin working together to help a child strengthen the skills that are so
crucial to learning to read.
The Fine Print
Please note that “Target the Problem!” is not intended to replace the expertise of trained
professionals such as educational diagnosticians, school psychologists, special educators,
or general educators in either diagnosing or instructing children who may have reading
disabilities. “Target the Problem!” is also not intended to be exhaustive in scope. Please
use the information provided in conjunction with information you may glean from other
resources and people.
For more information:
Feel free to photocopy and distribute this information if appropriate credit is given to
Reading Rockets, The Access Center, and LD OnLine.
The Access Center and Reading Rockets are funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
The following individuals contributed to the development of this material: Dr. Kathryn Drummond, Dr. Claudia Edmondson, Dr. Joanne Meier, Dr. Kathleen Ross-Kidder, and Dr. Judy Shanley.
We are grateful to the following individuals for their careful review: Dr. Lynn Fuchs, Dr. Louisa Moats, Dr. Annemarie Palincsar, Dr. Terry Salinger, Dr. Louise Spear-Swerling, and Dr. Joanna Williams.
Please let us know how you are using this tool or if you have any comments or suggestions regarding it.