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If You Think There's a Problem

By: U.S. Department of Education (2005)

Your child may resist being read to or joining with you in the activities in this booklet. If so, keep trying the activities, but keep them playful. Remember that children vary a great deal in the ways that they learn. Don't be concerned if your child doesn't enjoy a certain activity that her friend of the same age loves. It is important, though, to keep an eye on how your child is progressing. (See Watching Your Child Progress.)

When a child is having a language or reading problem, the reason might be simple to understand and deal with or it might be complicated and require expert help. Often, children may just need more time to develop their language skills. On the other hand, some children might have trouble seeing, hearing, or speaking. Others may have a learning disability. If you think your child may have some kind of physical or learning problem, it is important to get expert help quickly.

Parents, teachers, and other professionals can work together to determine if a child has a learning disability or other problem, and then provide the right help as soon as possible.

If your child is in school and you think that she should have stronger language skills, ask for a private meeting with her teacher. (You may feel more comfortable taking a friend, relative, or someone else in your community with you.) In most cases, the teacher or perhaps the principal will be able to help you to understand how your child is doing and what you might do to help her.

There is a law — the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA — that may allow you to get certain services for your child from your school district. Your child might qualify to receive help from a speech and language therapist or other specialist, or she might qualify to receive materials designed to match her needs. You can learn about your special education rights and responsibilities by requesting that the school give you — in your first language — a summary of legal rights. To find out about programs for children with disabilities that are available in your state, contact the National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities.(See Resources for Parents and Caregivers for the address and phone number and for other resources.)

The good news is that no matter how long it takes, most children can learn to read. Parents, teachers, and other professionals can work together to determine if a child has a learning disability or other problem, and then provide the right help as soon as possible. When a child gets such help, chances are very good that she will develop the skills she needs to succeed in school and in life. Nothing is more important than your support for your child as she goes through school. Make sure she gets any extra help she needs as soon as possible, and always encourage her and praise her efforts.

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References

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Adams, Marilyn J., Foorman, Barbara R., Lundberg, Ingvar, & Beeler, Terri. (1997). Phonemic Awareness in Young Children: A Classroom Curriculum. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Armbruster, Bonnie B., Lehr, Fran, and Osborn, Jean. (2001). Put Reading First: The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read. Kindergarten Through Grade 3. Washington, DC: National Institute for Literacy (available online at www.nifl.gov)

Burns, M. Susan, Griffin, Peg, and Snow, Catherine E. (Eds.) (1999). Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children's Reading Success. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Clay, Marie M. (1979). The Early Detection of Reading Difficulties (3rd Ed.). Auckland, New Zealand: Heinemann.

Dickinson, David K., and Tabors, Patton O. (2001). Beginning Literacy with Language: Young Children Learning at Home and School. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Hart, Betty, and Risley, Todd R. (1995). Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Hannon, Peter. (1995). Literacy, Home, and School: Research and Practice in Teaching Literacy with Parents. London, England: Falmer Press.

Hiebert, Elfrieda H., and Raphael, Taffy E. (1998). Early Literacy Instruction. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.

International Reading Association (IRA) and National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). (1998). Learning to Read and Write: Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Young Children — A Joint Position Statement of the IRA and NAEYC. Washington, DC.

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). (1996). Technology and Young Children Ages 3 Through 8 — An NAEYC Position Statement. Washington, DC.

National Reading Panel. (2000). Teaching Children to Read: An Evidence-Based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading and Its Implications for Reading Instruction. Washington, DC: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Neuman, Susan B., Copple, Carol, and Bredekamp, Sue. (2000). Learning to Read and Write: Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Young Children. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Snow, Catherine E., Burns, M. Susan, and Griffin, Peg (Eds.). (1998). Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

U.S. Department of Education
Office of Communications and Outreach
Helping Your Child Become a Reader
Washington, D.C., 2005

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