​​​(58)Reading Difficulty (Children)

What is reading difficulty

Reading with understanding is not a simple process. It requires many different skills.

Some of these skills include:

  • Phonemic awareness (ability to process sounds in words)
  • Phonics (knowledge of letter-sound relationship)
  • Vocabulary
  • Reading fluency
  • Comprehension

A child needs to learn all these skills to become a proficient reader. If your child has a problem with any of these skills, your child will likely struggle to understand what he or she is reading.

Children’s reading difficulties come in various forms. It depends on which skill your child has difficulty with. Reading difficulties may affect your child’s academic progress in school, and in turn, lead to low self-esteem, school refusal and other behavioural problems.

Causes of reading difficulty

There are some factors that can contribute to reading difficulty:

  • Specific learning disorders (SLDs) such as dyslexia can affect reading, spelling and writing
  • Lack of appropriate literacy experiences at home
  • Language impairment
  • Sensory impairment
  • Auditory processing weaknesses
  • Visual processing weaknesses
  • Attention difficulties

Signs and symptoms of reading difficulty

  • Reluctance to engage in learning
  • Distractibility and attention problems especially during learning activities
  • Difficulties with acquisition of essential pre-literacy skills during preschool years
  • Speech delay
  • Difficulties in rhyming
  • Difficulties with spelling despite practice
  • Mispronouncing words
  • Problems with comprehension of spoken language
  • Slow vocabulary growth; often unable to find the right word
  • Trouble remembering numbers
  • Lack of interest in playing word games
  • Difficulties following directions or routines
  • Difficulties with fine motor skills required for writing

Tips for taking care of children with reading difficulty

It is important to remember that all children learn differently and at different paces. Expose your child to reading at a young age and monitor your child’s reading progress. Above all, make reading a fun activity for you and your child.

Here are some activities you can do with your child:

  • Expose your child to a wide variety of literature such as comics, non-fiction and fiction at an early age.
  • Let your child enjoy looking at pictures in the book. Early reading comprehension relies on pictorial clues.
  • Take your child to the library regularly and read with your child daily.
  • Talk about what you are reading. Help your child to make connections between what is happening in the story and real-life situations.
  • Be aware of how your child is doing at school. Ask the teacher about your child’s progress.

Detecting reading problems early can help your child in school as reading proficiency plays a major role in all school subjects.

This write-up is reproduced with permission from Child Development Unit, at the Khoo Teck Puat – National University Children’s Medical Institute, National University Hospital.

For more resources, visit https://www.nuh.com.sg/cdu-resources