Is it a reading comprehension problem or a vocabulary problem?

I have worked with all kinds of kiddos and have discovered a few things along the way. I can typically tell what a student needs support in after working with them for a few minutes. It all comes down to having them read something to you (typically something at their level). As you listen, you are keeping track of the number of words they miss. Once they get to about 5 missed words on a page, I know we have a problem. Then I will ask them what they remember from their reading. If they can tell me all about it, it is most likely an issue with new words or phonetics. If they can read everything but cannot remember what they have read, then it is most likely a comprehension issue. Or, it could be both!

As a student who loved to read, but would miss many new words, I completely understand the struggle. I used to hate to read aloud! I was always worried I would make mistakes. I knew I didn’t know how to sound out words and was always puzzled by the fact that my classmates had it all figured out. As a child who moved multiple times as I was growing up, I found out that each teacher taught reading in a different way. I managed to grow up in a time where whole-language was a thing! It meant that the more you read, the better you would become. Well, that didn’t bode well for me. I didn’t understand the pattens for the sounds the words should make.

I didn’t seem to suffer a lot, but I knew I had to work a lot harder than my classmates to earn the grades I got. I ended up graduating in the top 10 percent of my high school class, I graduated from college with honors, and landed a wonderful job in a small elementary school. So, I was one of the kids who just figured it out.

However, I did discover along the way, that I had missed a vital component to my learning. Phonics! I had to do some discovery on my own, because by the time I got into to my education classes in college, we were doing whole-language again! The cycles seem to go round-and-round in education! But, I really studied this because it hit close to home for me.

I began to piece it all together and then as I put it all together, I thought, wow! Too bad no one ever really showed me this! Now that I know it, I do my best to show my struggling readers the sounds and help them to put it all together so they don’t struggle like I did.

Now, the other piece of the puzzle is the comprehension portion. If your child reads really well, but they cannot tell you what they have read, you have the opposite problem. They need to learn how to think about what they have read. There are many, many ways to do this. I find it fun to challenge kids to think in different ways about what they have read. As we talk and write about what they have read, they get to really understand it. That not only supports their comprehension skills, but it also supports their writing.

If your child is struggling with their reading, consider working with me! I would love to chat with you about your child’s needs. I know that all children can learn given the right tools. It is just a matter of discovery and support. Check out my website for more information! I look forward to hearing from you!

I will not share any of your personal information with anyone. It will only be used to discuss your child and how I support their learning.

Published by Tutoring with Sheryl

I have 32 years of experience teaching in public schools in Nebraska. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincon. I hold a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Doane University. I have 2 Google for Education Certifications. I have been tutoring online for 1 year. I have worked with countless students of all ages to support their education. I also support teachers with planning and management in their classrooms.

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