Archives for November 2014

How to Make Reading Fun

Make reading fun

Having Fun While Learning to Read

2nd grade twins are bored with reading worksheets. Dr. Linda suggests games and physical exercise to improve learning and agrees that worksheets can be very dull indeed.

Dear Dr. Linda:

School’s just started and already my twins are bringing home one boring math or reading worksheet after another. It’s their 2nd grade homework. They have different teachers but even so some of these worksheets are identical.

My daughter, Erika, doesn’t mind them since she’s determined to do everything her teacher tells her to do. Her brother, Andrew, on the other hand hates “those stupid worksheets.” It’s a real struggle to get him to complete them.

Obviously we can’t do anything about the worksheets, but can you suggest something to make learning basic arithmetic and reading more fun. Thanks for your help. Twins’ Mom

Dear Twins’ Mom,

You’re not alone. Lots of kids, including those who get excellent grades, don’t like the worksheets. They just aren’t very much fun. And from the research we know that kids (and adults too) learn best when [Read more…]

Kids Begin Dropping Out of College in 3rd Grade

Why Kids Fail College in Elementary School & What to Do About it Now!

Why kids drop out of college in 3rd grade

3rd Grade College Dropout

Have you ever heard the expression, “He dropped out of college in the third grade?” Or “Kids begin dropping out of college in third grade.

Strange as it sounds, it’s real.

Dropping out of college — and failing to succeed in school in general — really does begin in grade school. There are many reasons for this. In order to break this failure cycle, the reasons needed to be identified and addressed.

The most common reason? Failing to learn how to read because of un-diagnosed and untreated learning disabilities.

While some children pick up reading on their own before they begin school, most children learn to read between the first and third grades. Let’s take a look at “Johnny”, a youngster who is about to finish third grade and is struggling with reading. (Suggested reading: Why Johnny Can’t Read: and what you can do about it by Rudolf Flesch)

Johnny didn’t pick up reading in first grade but he did not stand out because they were others in the same situation. By second grade there were fewer, and by third grade Johnny started to notice that almost everybody was reading but him.

Add to this his growing awareness of self that develops around this time, Johnny begins to see himself as “different.” In time, different morphs into “dumb,” with all the emotional baggage associated with this label. For Johnny, and all the Johnnies, learning to read is challenging enough. Add to that the emotional component, and the challenge grows exponentially.

It’s not too late. [Read more…]

My Child Hates to Read

My child hates to read

What to do When Your Child Doesn’t Like to Read

Motivating a child to read is a challenge when they’d rather be doing something else–anything but reading.  Dr. Linda Silbert suggests word puzzles and games at first.  Then eventually children find something they’re passionate about and often will enjoy reading about that. She even shares a free downloadable resource.

Dear Dr. Linda,
My daughter is in 8th grade. She’s a pretty good student. She does her homework and gets A’s and B’s. Sometimes she gets a C, but in general she’s always done well in school. But, she hates to read.

She’s a good reader who never picks up a book.

We make her sit and read for 20 minutes every day. She hates it. My husband and I love to read. What can we do to encourage her to read more and ultimately become a reader who loves to read?


Dear Maria,
We assume that everybody loves to read. The fact is that not [Read more…]

Motivating Reluctant Readers

Motivate reluctant readersNeed Motivation for Reluctant Readers?

When kids don’t like reading, school can be a struggle. Because reading is essential for success in all classes, their grades and tests suffer. However, motivating reluctant readers isn’t impossible.

Why do Kids Dislike Reading?

Kids don’t hate reading because they’re lazy, stupid, or don’t want to do well in school. Many factors contribute to children avoiding reading. Parents and teachers can succeed in motivating reluctant readers by discovering what causes an individual student to dislike reading.

Reluctant readers may be those kids who simply refuse to read. Other kids don’t like to read but can be coaxed. Some are good readers. Others have learning disabilities or are still struggling with decoding. Reluctant readers may find ways to protest reading by “acting out” in class when it’s time for independent reading. Or “forgetting” to bring a book home for homework. It may take some “detective work” to figure out why a child doesn’t like to read. [Read more…]

Reading and Writing for Kids

Reading and writing for kids

Fifth Graders Just Want to Have Fun!

Mom worries that 5th grade son just wants to ride his bike and struggles with reading and writing. Dr. Linda says that’s normal and explains why kids struggle with school.

Dear Dr.Linda,
Our son is in 5th grade and his teacher just called us in for a conference. She said that he’s really smart, but he needs help with reading and writing. Every night we make him read, but he fights with us.

We tell him that he has to rewrite his homework so it’s not sloppy, but he ends up crying and we end up screaming. He’s so lazy. All he wants to do is ride his bike and play.

What do we do?

Parents of Fifth Grade Boy

Dear Parents of Fifth Grader,
Your son sounds like a normal healthy fifth grade boy. Most fifth grade boys don’t want to read or write. They want to play and that’s what they need to do after a long day at school. That’s part of childhood. When a child doesn’t [Read more…]

Poor Reading Comprehension

Reading Comprehension skillsIs Reading Comprehension a Problem?

Sometimes kids think they can read. After all, they know all the words. But that doesn’t mean they understand what they read.

Disinterest, struggling with decoding individual words, text is too difficult for a child’s reading level, deficit in working memory which is common with kids with ADHD, visual processing disorder, and limited vocabulary cancause poor reading comprehension.

Poor Reading Comprehension Skills Lead to Poor Grades

When kids don’t understand what they read, it affects their ability to succeed in school.  All subjects, including science and math, require reading comprehension. Even Tests and exams require good reading comprehension which results in low grades and poor test scores if a student has poor reading comprehension.

 Signs of Poor Reading Comprehension [Read more…]

What is Dyslexia?

What is dyslexia?

How Phonics Help Children With Dyslexia Learn to Read

Dr. Linda advises a worried mom to have her child tested for dyslexia, and then explains what dyslexia is and why a phonics-based reading program helps.

Dear Dr. Linda,

Our daughter is in the third grade and was just diagnosed with dyslexia. She’s embarrassed to go to school, because she can’t read. My husband and I are willing to pay anyone who says that they’ll teach her to read.

One of my friends said that her son went for eye therapy and that helped him read. Another friend told me to try a program called “Fast Forward.”

Someone else mentioned trying one of the “movement-based learning” programs. Some are expensive and many involve hours of after school time.

She’s only eight, so we don’t want her to spend all day in school and after school doing schoolwork. We also don’t want to spend a lot of money unless it will help. If it will help, we’ll spend whatever we need to spend. What else is available that won’t be hours and hours a week? Claudia D.

Dear Claudia,

This is a common question. As you know, when a child is already in the third grade and still struggles with reading, many parents will [Read more…]

Improve Reading Comprehension

How to improve reading comprehension

How Having Your Child Draw Pictures Helps Them Learn to Read

Mom of 5th grader gets advice from Dr. Linda about improving her son’s reading comprehension.

Dear Dr. Linda,
My 5th grader was diagnosed with a reading problem in first grade. He’s had extra reading help since then. They take him out of class for instruction. But he’s always complained that he’s missing things in school and doesn’t feel he needs the reading class. I’ve never seen a problem. He seems to read fine when he read to me, but his teachers tell me that his reading comprehension is poor. So I haven’t argued with his teachers. However, nothing has improved. In fact, after his last review, his reading comprehension scores were worse. What do I do? Do I leave him in the reading class? Jen

Dear Jen,
I can’t answer your question about whether to leave him in the reading class or not. I would discuss this with his teacher. However, I can give you [Read more…]

Phonics Centered — Consistent with Orton-Gillingham — Multisensory