How to Help Children with Reading Difficulties

When it comes to reading difficulties in children, early diagnosis and intervention are the most important steps. This is to provide a baseline on which lesson plans for reading instruction and interventions will be based on. Experts have identified three patterns of reading difficulties. Each one will be discussed below, followed by some recommendations.


Reading difficulties is an umbrella term for various types of reading problems usually found in children with learning delays and disorders like dyslexia. These difficulties can start as early as preschool, but it becomes more apparent as the child gets older.

Teachers can utilize assessments and intervention plans to provide differentiation for the students with concerns. Identifying a child’s reading difficulty is not meant to stereotype or exclude the student from the rest of the class. Knowing about the reading difficulty will allow teachers and reading specialists to find ways in which to support the learning of the child. 

Types of Reading Problems and Interventions

Specific Word-Reading Difficulties (SWRD) – students that have difficulty reading words but have no concerns with comprehension. Children with SWRD will benefit from an intervention that includes explicit phonics-based intervention, which is to be incorporated into phonics instruction. They should be taught decoding and spelling to acquire phonemic awareness (P.A.) skills such as blending and segmentation.

Specific Reading Comprehension Difficulties (SRCD) – students that may be able to read words but have difficulty with deciphering the meaning. Children with SRCD will benefit from intervention programs that are designed around the comprehension areas that need to be improved. Teachers can model the skills that they wish to improve, like summarizing texts. Other related skills to improve are identifying key points and text structure. Teachers can use tools like graphic organizers and strategies like read-alouds to teach the students with SRCD.

Mixed Reading Difficulties (M.R.D.) – students that struggle with a combination of reading and comprehension. Children with M.R.D. will benefit from phonics interventions that combine elements from interventions for SWRD and SRCD. The students will require direct instruction to address reading comprehension concerns in combination with phonic interventions.

 Differentiation in the Classroom

Differentiation in class helps improve overall class performance. Of course, it all depends on the type of differentiation that the teacher utilizes. To be effective, the differentiation has to address specific difficulties. Early in the school year, teachers can use assessment tools to identify which students in their class have reading difficulties and what pattern of difficulty they have.

Final Thoughts

As mentioned earlier, diagnosis is the most important step in finding solutions for a student’s reading difficulties. This is the starting point on which teachers and reading specialists can plan interventions for the child. Interventions will vary depending on what type of difficulty a child has. Although “difficulties” imply deficiencies, each one has strengths that they can leverage to make up for the areas for improvement. Once the reading difficulty has been identified, teachers and specialists can prepare differentiation and accommodations to address the needs of the child.  Teachers might indeed have limited time and resources to solely implement the interventions. This is why collaborating with a team on interventionists is important. Knowing about a student’s reading problem will also provide a basis to monitor the progress of the child.

Choose your Reaction!