Children with reading difficulties

Children are not naturally inclined to read because it’s a complex skill that needs a considerable amount of time to watch, hear and imitate. To begin with, the alphabet is an abstract concept that has no straight-forward logic to why a particular letter makes a particular sound.

As your child grows up and is more exposed to ‘reading material’, there is an increased gradation of comprehension needed from simple ideas to more abstract complex ideas and then multiple complex ideas and so on.


Reading becomes fun and enjoyable only when it is introduced with a certain level of finesse and delicacy,  with an intention to instigate awe and surprise. Children, especially in their early years need to be stimulated in multiple ways.

Sometimes a learning disability like Dyslexia or Dyspraxia is incorrectly diagnosed or remains undiagnosed unless it is an extreme condition and is visible. However, irrespective of a name like ‘Dyslexia”, one of the things I want to bring focus on is the large percentage of children who struggle to read because their problems were left unchecked in the early developing years. According to Dr.  Tim Conway, a neuropsychologist who specializes in Dyslexia, a child’s tendencies for the same,  can be arrested by early intervention.

Children need to look at your face and see how the sounds are mouthed. Babies have a way of looking at your mouth when you talk to them. This means that they learn language through both acoustic and visual sensations. This is important because it helps an early learner figure out the difference between similar sounding phonemes based on the shape the mouth makes.


The activity of reading out to your child is not defined by their age. It is what you read out to them that needs to be fine-tuned. Reading aloud to them, facing them, while you do it, ( add facial expressions) needs to continue way into their primary education years. Even adults benefit from listening to something being read out to them. The brain receives the information differently than when you have read it yourself and lets you notice and process the information in a new way.

Consistency is key to being able to change or upgrade your child’s reading level. They need to be stimulated for twenty minutes in a day, to begin with. This can gradually be increased depending on their progress.

According to Dr. Conway, a child is benefitted in a one to one tutoring situation when he listens and then tries reading out the words himself/herself. By reading out to oneself the learner activates another sensory system along with the acoustic and visual. The child learns to reproduce sounds s/he has heard before through the touch sensation in the mouth as s/he cannot actually see her/his own mouth.


Often when a child is ‘asked’ to read a book in class or at home, it is often done without understanding the need for stimulation. Children who struggle with reading are seen to not have a consistent and steady environment where the skill can be nurtured. Reading becomes fun and enjoyable only when it is introduced with a certain level of finesse and delicacy,  with an intention to instigate awe and surprise. Children, especially in their early years need to be stimulated in multiple ways.

Some fun ways have been suggested earlier in PARENTING: WANT YO GET YOUR 8-YEAR-OLDS TO READ?

In order to overcome reading difficulties, children need to enjoy what they are doing. To this end, it is important to utilize their brain’s ability to have multi-dimensional perceptions, exercise their lucid imagination, and nurture their ability to experience thought like it was real. They also need consistent or repetitive intense experiences of engaging with language.

Ms.Aruna Nirula, a retired Hindi teacher from Chennai, vouched on ‘read aloud’ classes. She, for her high school students, combined reading practice with comprehension lessons. She then added appropriate movements and gestures to enhance the experience of the lesson. All through her teaching career, she has never had students feeling dissatisfied or lost. The academic requirement for learning the language had been tough for both children with reading problems and non-native speakers alike but the experience of reading in class helped the students stay-on on every curve.

If your child finds reading difficult, it is important to investigate the reason. Can this be overcome with the right kind of intervention?

It is important to stimulate the child towards an enhanced enjoyable reading experience. It won’t do to simply provide them with books to read.

Have you had language learning difficulties as a child? Do you have a child with a reading difficulty? Is the problem extending to difficulty in spelling words? I would sure like to learn more from your experience! Do share them with the Little Banyan Tree group.

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