When to Seek Additional Help for Your Struggling Reader

 Nothing breaks my heart more than meeting middle school students who are embarrassed because they can't read. What's even sadder... many of these clearly intelligent students were placed into special education programs, because schools did not have the tools to deliver the intensive reading intervention required to remediate these students reading skills. These students end up suffering both academically and emotionally.

One of the main problems is that the foundational mechanics of reading are generally taught in the primary grades, which span from kinder to third grade. After third grade everyone assumes that students already know how to read. Translated, if you have a student in a primary grade who consistently receives "C's" in reading they are probably weak in one or more of the essential reading components, and they will probably struggle to keep up in every subject. Study after study shows that these students have a much higher high school drop out rate.

Since most teachers have never been trained to diagnose reading difficulties, many students are receiving the exact same instruction. I have even heard some teachers (and parents) blame the student struggles to read. Imagine how these students feel when they are trying their best, and their best is never good enough.

The good news is that currently, reading research validates that differentiated instruction and intensive reading instruction can help improve a students' reading ability. Even students with dyslexia and other severe reading difficulties can strengthen their reading skills when sustained, systematic, explicit reading intervention is provided by a highly qualified interventionist.

If you are worried about your child's reading ability, here are some tips to help you get assistance from the school:
1. Be persistent in your quest to obtain help for your struggling reader.
2. Learn how to interpret standardized test results, they may not be as strong as you think.
3. Stay fully informed about reading milestones the school district has established for each grade level.
4. Seek help sooner than later, because reading skills are cumulative. This means one weak skill can negatively impact future reading proficiency.
5. If you don't receive satisfactory results from the teacher, ask to speak with the reading specialist, or the campus principal.
6. Trust your instinct, when you feel your child needs more help in reading.

Once you persuade the school to begin providing reading intervention, make sure you ask how long your child will receive intervention, how long it will be provided, and exactly who will be providing the services. It is also important for the interventionist to conduct regular progress monitoring in order to measure your child's reading progress. Don't forget to request copies of progress monitoring, because this is valuable data in case your child is subsequently diagnosed with a more severe reading problem.