7 Main Causes of Reading Difficulty in Children

Today’s blog is a guest post about why children can have trouble reading. Thank you so much for your article, Easy Read!

Experts tell us that 1 in 10 people in the English-speaking global population have dyslexia. A diagnosis is usually given in childhood, but many adults are now being diagnosed as well.

But what is dyslexia? It is a loose term which captures a variety of reading difficulties. Dyslexia describes people with strong visual-spatial capacities that lead them down the wrong path in reading and spelling tasks.

Reading is a neurological process that the brain undertakes every time it is presented with text on the page. In order to target the primary cause of reading difficulty to find a solution, we have to look at different areas where that process can break down.

We have found that there are 7 main reasons children struggle with reading. By defining which of these a child struggles with, we can help the child become a fluent reader.

1. Optilexia - The main sign of Optilexia is guessing when reading, particularly with the short words. Sometimes the longer words seem easier and the reader will read a word without a problem on one page, but not the next. It can be very frustrating! Spelling in free writing is atrocious, but the Optilexic can usually perform well on a spelling test. Unfamiliar words and place names will feel very difficult. The underlying cause of Optilexia can be found in how the learner is processing the text visually rather than aurally. Once that has been switched, a steady rate of progress can be gained.

2. Eye-Tracking Weakness - Does your child skip words and lines? Do single words seem easier than sentences and paragraphs of text? Normally a reader’s eyes perform a refined jump from word cluster to word cluster left to right, called a saccade. Some struggling readers have weakness in the neural feedback loops controlling the eye muscles that control this movement. That makes focusing accurately on a word in a sentence very hard. The right simple eye-tracking exercises usually fix this neural weakness in just days.

3. Irlen Syndrome - Has your child ever complained about the words moving around on the page? The human eye has a great visual sensitivity to changes in color and brightness in order to identify patterns. However, some struggling readers have an over-sensitivity to black text on white background, which causes the words to shimmer or move around on the page. This can be alleviated with colored films to soften the level of contrast.

4. Poor Short-Term Memory - Have you seen your child struggling to decode longer words? Is it hard to follow the meaning of sentence? When you learn to read you have to use the short-term memory capacity through the entire reading process.  Words are broken into sounds, which then have to be held in memory to be turned into a word, which then have to be held in memory to be placed in a sentence, which then…etc! Some struggling readers have a limited short-term memory capacity (they might find recalling more than 4 numbers of a sequence difficult), which causes low comprehension and great difficulty with decoding longer words. The good news is that if your child is guided through reading practice in a way that makes it easy, then the whole process will eventually drop into the automatic “procedural” zones of the brain. At that point this issue ceases to be a concern.

5. Attention Deficit - Attention problems are common among children and often diagnosed as ADD. No matter what the label, the child has difficulty focusing on tasks that they are not interested in. Learning to read starts as a difficult task, and children with attention issues have great difficulty applying themselves until it becomes easier. This results in a struggle with reading that turns into a reading disorder diagnosis. The key for children with attention issues is to structure the lessons in short, simple ways in order to grab their attention and keep them progressing until reading becomes more automatic and not such a chore. Symptoms of attention deficit include excessive fidgeting, being easily distracted, preferring motion, yet the ability to focus when interested in a task.

6. Fluency Block - Does your child decode words competently, but struggle to read fluently? A conventional reader uses a part of their brain called the letterbox cortex to recognise common letter groupings. Amazgainly you aer able to raed scarblmed txet quite flnuetly, due to this function. Some struggling readers bypass their letterbox cortex when reading, instead using visual memory to store letter groupings. This causes the reader to be able to decode quickly but never really develop any fluency or smoothness. To fix this tricky problem means engaging this very specialist bit of cortex in the decoding process. We do that with anagrams.

7. Stress Spirals - Reading is a higher brain function and is therefore controlled by the frontal cortex. When the brain is under stress, 70% of the frontal cortex energy is diverted to the fight or flight center (amygdala) and the brain loses its capacity to think clearly. A child who struggles with reading is in a state of stress when trying. This sets the child up for inadequate mental resources when attempting to read. The pattern of being under stress and getting more stressed when trying creates a downward stress spiral which often results in meltdowns, tears and finally giving up.

If these patterns seem familiar and you want more information, you can visit the Easyread website or talk to your local dyslexia charity.

Looking for a phonics program to help your struggling learner? Easyread incorporates solutions to these 7 causes and difficulty due to dyslexiaauditory processing disorder or highly visual learning styles. Visit http://www.easyreadsystem.com

Cute kids’ leggings

Happy Friday! Here’s some snapshots of some weekly kids’ fashion inspiration from Pinterest. The theme of the week: cute kids’ leggings. What better way to dress your kids in a comfortable outfit AND make a fashion statement? Check it out!

Pinterest Favorites

Check out the pins on Pinterest that have really caught my attention this week!

Creative bow holder

Dog in a dog

Adorable Indian princess headband

Alien shoes

Green smoothie popsicles

Beating the Back-to-School Blues

For the children who don’t anticipate the first day of school as much as others, getting back in the routine of school can be a challenge. Here are five ways to get your child motivated to rise and shine, get ready, and go off to school with a positive attitude. 

  • Write a new motivational message on a white board every morning where your child can see it. This will ensure your child that you are thinking of them every morning and that you believe in them. They will also be more inspired to wake up and view their daily message from Mom (or Dad).
  • Institute bedtime and wake-up time. In the summers, maybe these times were more flexible. But now that school is back in session, it is important to get their bodies accustomed to a routine. As time goes by, going to bed and waking up will become increasingly easier and much less stressful for everyone involved.
  • Tell your own school stories. It’s fun to recount the memories we have from our own childhoods. The great thing is that telling these stories is both entertaining and reassuring to our kids, too. It reminds them that we were all their age at one point, and we all went through it. Plus, you’ll probably get a laugh or two on the ride to school.
  • Create an after-school ritual. Nothing can compare to the attention of a parent, and when it comes to such a huge aspect of a child’s life, you need to be there to listen to the goings-on of your child’s day. Come up with an idea to spend at least 30 minutes sitting down with your child and talking about their day in school. Sometimes they may need to vent about things that went wrong and they desperately need your advice. Other times you both can celebrate the joys that happened. Either way, this “alone” time is crucial for both the happiness and success of your son or daughter.
  • Go back-to-school supply shopping. It may sound lame, but nothing excites kids more than new things. To save money, go to a dollar store and shop the school supply section. Your kids will leave with brand new supplies and excitement to be able to use them.
“A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.”
-Carl Sandburg

Junior Vegetarians: Healthy additions to an all-veg kid’s diet

As vegetarianism becomes more mainstream in popular culture, many people are electing to raise their children on a vegetarian diet. With the right combination of foods and care to consume all of the essential vitamins and minerals, a healthy vegetarian lifestyle is possible for children. In fact, it is proven to prevent heart disease and diabetes later in life. However, there are several guidelines to follow if you would like to start your kids on a vegetarian diet, whether or not they are already born. Ensure that your children are consuming enough of the following vitamins and you could raise a happy, healthy, junior vegetarian!

Vitamin B12
What to add to your diet: cottage cheese, eggs, yogurt

Vitamin D
What to add to your diet: milk, cheese, goat cheese 

What to add to your diet: herbs (thyme, oregano), pumpkin seeds, sun-dried tomatoes, dried apricots

What to add to your diet: cooked spinach, black beans, orange juice, milk

What to add to your diet: quinoa, broccoli, potatoes, edamame, tofu

What to add to your diet: peanuts, fortified cereal, nuts, raisins

Favorites from Pinterest

Here is a “snapshot” of some of the great pictures I have found on Pinterest. If you want to see more of these types of photos on any day of the week, check out my Pinterest!

While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.
-Angela Schwindt

OshKosh Goes Floral!

Clearly, OshKosh is all about the flowers this season. Check out some of their adorable girl dresses from their website, all for under $21! Awesome would be an understatement. (Certainly beats the price of some of the designer dresses…see my post below for details!)

Haute Couture for Kids: A ‘Do’ or a ‘Don’t’?

As more and more designers start bringing children’s lines to their product offerings, it begs the question, “How much is too much in terms of kids fashion”? These designers create adorable clothing items for youngsters under the age of 10 (some of which are pinned to my Pinterest boards), and the industry appears to be ripe for introducing children’s lines. However, these same companies are also getting plenty of flack for attempting to dress kids in $500+ outfits.

Take Oscar de la Renta for example. This designer clothing line just came out with pint-sized $145 wool dresses and $250 corduroy blazers. Mimicking their full-size counterparts, mothers and daughters can match in the same fabrics and designs if they both buy de la Renta. Don’t take that the wrong way, however: The designer emphasizes that the pieces do not include the “risque-ness” of the adult versions but rather accentuate the innocence of the children with modesty and grace. 

An immediate worry that comes to my mind in particular is whether or not the clothes will be easily ruined by playful, clumsy kids. To many, this type of large investment is not worth the risk of possible damage by kids being kids. Also, while dressing identically to your child may be cute, it is important to keep in mind that the designers creating these types of children’s lines may have another motivation: To get the mothers hooked onto the clothes using their children as a stepping stone. While not always true, most companies are not addressing the comfort and wear-ability of the clothing for the children themselves but hoping that the will of the parents will eventually win over to create brand loyalty with this generation and the next.

No matter where you stand in the haute couture kids clothes debate, there are pros and cons for each side. If you can afford the price tag, dressing your kids in the newest designer fashions may be feasible. The rest of us, well, we’ll just stick to gushing over the newest frills and animal designs that only a child could pull off with style.