Many of my students have difficulty understanding what they read. If you notice that your child struggles with reading, there are some ways you can figure out what the problem might be.
Reading is very much like figuring out a code. The letters stand for sounds, sometimes two letters together make one sound, and different kinds of syllables are pronounced differently. The reading code is quite difficult, and without proper instruction, many children never do understand how to decode words. Add to that the number of words in the English language that do not follow the sound-symbol rules, and reading gets even more complicated.
If your child struggles, start by selecting a paragraph in one of her textbooks from school. Ask her to read the paragraph out loud to you. If you notice that she frequently struggles to figure out what a word is, she may have a problem with decoding.
But if your child reads the words accurately but does not understand what the paragraph means, the problem is not with decoding. The problem might be with reading comprehension. Reading comprehension depends on a number of things. If the words are easy to read but he does not know what some of them mean, then he will not comprehend the overall meaning of the paragraph. In this case, a lack of vocabulary is the problem. Parents can help their child with vocabulary development. For ideas, see my earlier blog on how to do this. Some children can read the words fairly well, but they do not know how to read fluently and to phrase the sentences so that they make sense.
Reading well is the key to success in school. If this is a problem for your child, seek help as soon as you possibly can. The first step is to have her tested by a professional such as an educational psychologist. The specialist can recommend how to get her the help she needs. This will likely involve working one-on-one with a tutor who specializes in reading instruction. Reading teachers have a variety of strategies they use to teach decoding, reading comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, and phrasing.
For more information about reading, there are many interesting articles here at SchoolFamily.com.