9 terms to know if your child has trouble with reading

As you look into why your child has trouble with reading, you may come across a number of words and concepts you’re not familiar with. Here are key reading terms to help you understand your child’s reading challenges.

1. Decoding

Decoding is a key reading skill. Decoding involves matching letters with their sounds and blending those sounds together to form a word. This allows kids to sound out or figure out words they’ve never seen in written form.

2. Sight words

These are words kids are expected to recognize without having to sound them out. They’re known as sight words, or star words. Some of them can’t be sounded out, so kids need to be able to automatically recognize them to read well.

3. Fluency

Fluency is the ability to read at a good pace and without making mistakes. This skill also includes reading with the right emotion or tone to match the words being read. Even kids who have good decoding and word recognition skills can struggle with fluency.

4. Phonological awareness

This language skill is the foundation for learning to read. It’s the ability to hear and “play” with the sounds in spoken language, like making rhymes. It allows kids to recognize syllables and notice when sounds are similar or different.

5. Intervention

Schools usually have a program or set of steps to help kids improve in challenging areas. This is known as intervention, and it often involves “tiers” or levels of help. Schools might use the terms instructional intervention or academic intervention.

6. Evaluation

When students are struggling with reading (or any learning skill), schools might do testing to find out why. This is called an evaluation. School evaluations are free. Depending on the results, a student might be able to get special reading instruction and supports, like getting notes from the lesson.

7. Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a common condition that causes trouble with reading. It can also impact spelling, writing, and math. Dyslexia is caused by genes and differences in the brain, and kids don’t outgrow it. But studies show that the brain can change with proper instruction.

8. Multisensory instruction

Kids learn in different ways. This teaching technique gives them more than one way to make connections and learn concepts. It uses different senses, like touch, sound, and movement. This technique is often part of reading programs for struggling readers.

9. Orton–Gillingham

Orton–Gillingham (OG) is a teaching approach that’s designed for struggling readers. It uses multisensory techniques to teach reading skills. It’s very structured, and it builds on skills over time. OG is the basis for a few reading programs that help kids with reading challenges.

If your child has trouble reading, there are many ways you can help. Discover multisensory techniques you can use at home. And get advice from an expert on how to choose books for struggling readers.


Read next