SchoolFamily Voices

Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

What If My Child Isn't Reading As Well As His Friends?

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Often, when parents hear that other children their child’s age are reading higher-level books, they have concerns about their own child’s progress. 


There may be several reasons why your child isn’t reading as well as other children in their grade. Is he one of the youngest children in the class? Has she missed a lot of school due to illness? Does he need glasses? Could there be a learning disability? 


Here are the first things you should do:


  • Rule out the physical. Make sure your child’s vision and hearing screenings are up to date. Young children don’t have a basis of comparison…they think everyone sees and hears as they do!


  • Check with his teacher to see if the teacher is concerned about his reading progress. Your son might not be the top reader in the class, but he may be just where he should be for his age and ability.


  • If the teacher has concerns as well, ask what you can do at home to help and support the process. Does your daughter need help with phonics and letter sounds? Does she need help remembering sight words?  These are skills that can be practiced at home using flash cards for sight words, and focusing on letter sounds when reading stories together.


  • Ask if there is extra help available at school, such as someone who could work individually with your child. In my class we are fortunate to have a wonderful retired teacher who volunteers for an hour, each Tuesday and Thursday. She works one-on-on with my children needing extra help. Mrs. “C” has done a tremendous job tutoring my students who need a little boost in reading skills.


Your child may simply be a “late-bloomer” who just needs additional time to mature. However, if skills don’t improve with time or extra help, you may have to request further educational testing.


Reading well is essential to school and life success. Discovering a learning problem early is key to getting help right away. The sooner a problem is identified and addressed, the faster your child can get back on track!



#1 Barbara 2012-01-26 17:07
I bought old Dick and Jane books to help my children learn to read before they started first grade. Both of my daughters learned very quickly and started first grade reading at a second grade level. My son, however, had a tough time. He loved the books, but simply couldn't learn to read. I assured him that everybody learned different skills at different ages, but he was upset and frustrated, especially since his twin sister was soaring ahead. The comparison between twins can be brutally unfair.

By the end of the first quarter of first grade, the school had taken note of his inability to learn to read and he was placed in a special program. I worked with him at home and knew he was trying. The break-through came early one Sunday morning when he was struggling to read to me and stopped to tell me that his eyes were tired from watching the words jump. The words jump? My heart sank.

My brothers both suffer from dyslexia, and I didn't want to see my son struggle as they had. I told him to take a break to rest his eyes and then ran to the computer and searched "dyslexia words jump". To my surprise a listing at www.abcHomeopathy.com popped up. I had never heard of the site, but I was desperate and willing to try almost anything.

The indicated remedy was homeopathic belladonna. This remedy is also indicated for teeth grinding and a barking cough, two symptoms that my son also exhibited, so I decided to give it a try.

After one dose of the homeopathic remedy, I sat down with my son to resume reading the same book he had been struggling with. Remarkably, he read the book cover to cover without a problem, closed the book triumphantly, and announced, "Pretty good, huh? And I thought I was stupid." I was in shock at his sudden ability to read and heartbroken that he had already received such a negative message about his ability. My husband, a former high school teacher, had been watching from an adjoining room. His jaw literally dropped as he told me he had never seen anything like it.

Our shock was nothing compared to his teacher's on Monday morning. He was moved out of the special program and into the advanced reading group! His reading continued to improve, and by the beginning of second grade a Terra Nova test placed him at an 8th grade level. He's now a sophomore high school honor student with an "A" in AP Language and Composition, just like his twin sister.

He continues to take homeopathic belladonna whenever the words start to jump and his eyes get tired. Why does the belladonna work? I don't know. I just thank our lucky stars that it does!

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