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  • The Signs Your Child Has a Reading Problem (3 to 9 Years Old)

    The crucial window of opportunity to address reading difficulties is from age 0 to 5.
    by Ana Gonzales .
The Signs Your Child Has a Reading Problem (3 to 9 Years Old)
  • “Reading difficulties can be corrected quite easily,” says Kim Loong, founder of MSL Centre Singapore and Orton-Gillingham Fellow-in-training, who shared the signs of reading difficulties (see below) during an early literacy seminar at Fully Booked. 

    The key is to spot the problem early. Research shows that 75% of children whose help is delayed until age 9 or later continue to struggle throughout their school careers. Ninety percent of children with reading difficulties will achieve grade level in reading if they receive help by the first grade.

    Further studies note that the crucial window of opportunity to address reading difficulties is from age zero to five. Children with a history of language impairment are also prone to reading difficulties, which can affect how they learn in school.

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    Here are a few signs your child may have a reading problem.

    Age 3 to 4

    • Identifies less than 10 letters
    • Lacks awareness that speech comes apart
    • Lacks interest in the sounds of the language

    Age 4 to 5

    • Struggles to break words into individual sounds
    • Struggles to name letters
    • Struggles to break words into syllables
    • Persistent baby talk

    Age 5 to 5 1/2

    • Cannot provide rhymes for simple words
    • Unable to distinguish between uppercase and lowercase letters
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    Age 5 1/2 to 6

    • Cannot identify the first sound of a word
    • Struggles to blend sounds into a word
    • Struggles to read simple words and sight words like you, my, is, the
    • Cannot name the letters of the alphabet
    • Struggles to spell his name or the names of family members and even pets

    Age 6 to 7

    • Struggles to match the letter to its sound
    • Doesn’t self-correct reading errors
    • Doesn’t have enough awareness and understanding of the meaning of the words he’s reading to be able to read the words correctly or make simple sentences
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    Age 7 to 8

    • Struggles to read aloud smoothly
    • Can’t syllabicate multisyllabic words
    • Avoids reading out loud

    Age 8 to 9

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    • Struggles to identify main ideas
    • Misspells words previously studied
    • Avoids reading longer texts
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    When your child reaches the fourth to eight grade, he should be reading to learn, not learning to read. If you can see two or more of the behaviors listed above, it’s best to consult a developmental pediatrician. When you bring your child in for assessment, he will look for patterns of difficulties and determine the starting point for intervention.

    Early literacy experts, developmental physicians, speech-language pathologists, psychologists, and occupational therapists all work hand in hand to check for the root cause of the problem — could it be a learning disability? Is he dyslexic? Identifying the main cause of your child’s reading troubles can help you find the right intervention program.

    Reading Specialists co-founder Ma. Rona Ermitaño advices parents to create a print-rich environment at home for their kids. She also advices parents to regularly read aloud to their kids and to make reading more fun and engaging.

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    “If families can have movie nights at home, it would be a good idea to have a book night, too. Every once in a while, unplug from your gadgets and read instead,” Ermitaño says.

    Loong adds, “Some kids have already developed a phobia for books already. But if you put them in front of the computer to do some research, they would be willing to read.”

    Both Ermitaño and Loong agree that as long as kids are supervised while they are using their tablets and computers to read, it would be a great way to motivate kids to read. 

    Ermitaño also suggests parents to lessen distractions and find engaging, interactive, and fun reading materials like pop-up books. You can check out some really good children’s books here, to get your kids started.

    If you think your child is having difficulties reading, have him assessed immediately.

    Click here for our directory of developmental pediatricians in Metro Manila.

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