Do you struggle with guilt, because your child ‘won’t read’?
Where does the guilt come from? Let me guess:
‘Initially, your child avoids getting started, and when you insist, the conflict begins. He argues about which book, which page and for how long. He insists ‘other children don’t have to do it.’
Then he fidgets, fiddles, loses concentration, sings or annoys the cat, the dog, or the baby! He reads a few words, which he can’t remember 20 seconds later. He slumps on the book, closes his eyes and finally cries.’
Perhaps you recognise this ‘misery’ and feel overwhelmed with guilt, because you are sure you are failing your child? You know he won’t read, see his confidence dissolving and it’s your fault.
Should we blame parents, when children won’t Read?
The parents I have worked with have all wanted their children to succeed, and tried so hard to help them: they have filled their children’s world with stories, read to them, shared picture books and decorated every inch of their bedrooms with beautiful books. But they still felt guilt.
Regardless of these efforts, their children avoid reading, and are soon left behind in the ‘reading race’ at school. No wonder these parents experienced guilt, and assumed they had done something wrong, even though they had one or more other children who could read.
Blame gets us nowhere!
If your child is unwilling to read his school reading book, you are not to blame! It is more likely that he knows he really cannot read it. This isn’t your fault: you are probably not even trained to teach reading. He won’t read because he can’t read.
Maybe, your child has no idea how the letter-sounds he learnt at school relate to the random reading book he brought home. Perhaps he has learnt the spelling rules, but finds they get broken and don’t help him with his reading. No good blaming the school: most children seem to benefit from these methods and learn to read quickly.
What if your child just thinks differently?
Maybe your child is good at math, and likes playing chess. Perhaps he is very literal, and takes a logical approach to learning. He is not likely to encounter this style of teaching, when it comes to reading. But this is no one’s fault. It just is. His reading is not improving, because he doesn’t understand the way he is being taught.
If you can understand that he really can’t read, it will be easier for you to respond to your struggling child with compassion. Just hearing Mum or Dad say how difficult reading is, can really help a child’s attitude towards books.
What if the school reading book is too difficult?
Why not ease the pain of the school reading book, which he is refusing to read, by reading it to him initially. You might reduce his anxiety by asking him to help you read just the three letter words. This way you begin a new supportive relationship in which you both feel relaxed, and fully understand that he can’t read and it’s OK.
All reading books throw up ideas which you can talk about, to enhance your child’s early ‘reading’ experience. Getting your child to relax and enjoy this time with you, no matter how little reading he does, is really important. Anxiety kills learning (see my Blog post on anxiety).
If he won’t read, does you child lack intelligence?
Finally, to reassure you, I want to impress upon you that a lack of intelligence is not the reason your child won’t read. Reading is a skill initially, not a measure of intellect, so it is possible to be very intelligent and yet unable to read. Really understanding this will ease some of your worries.
You may also find more ideas in my new book:
Please Help Me! I Really Can’t Read
This is the book I have written on helping struggling readers, which you might like to download for free, from this website. I was a non-reader myself and watched my child struggle with reading. I have learnt a lot from my experiences.