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  • Becky McArthur, S-LP(C)

6 Red Flags to Look for While Your Child Learns to Read

Learning to read is one of the most important jobs in a child’s life. A person’s reading ability impacts nearly every aspect of their life including later academics, career options, and mental health.


Unfortunately, there is so much misinformation around how to teach children to read and this has massive impacts. In Ontario, up to ⅓ of children are falling behind in reading (find out more about this issue here) and statistics show they are not catching up like many parents are led to believe.


With so many kids struggling to read, parents are often left to determine how to get their child caught up in reading. A decision that is frustrating (at best) and overwhelming (at worst). Do we use school programs? Lexia? Tutoring? See a speech-language pathologist? Hope it gets better? Take away hockey until it improves?


There is no one perfect “program” for every child but after five years of learning about reading and working as a speech-language pathologist teaching children how to read, I've seen many kids being taught to read using approaches that are not supported by the research. That means those approaches are not effective at teaching kids how to read. Here are my top 6 red flags:


🚩 Focus on memorizing whole words (aka sight words, popcorn words, camera words) or memorizing books that are highly predictable or are levelled readers

🚩 Assessment of reading involves only ‘levelling’ a child using levelled readers

🚩 Told to use the picture or a first letter to guess a word

🚩 Told to guess the vowel sound (e.g., difference of sound ‘o’ makes in go vs got)

🚩 When an error is made, the child is not told how to fix an error

🚩 Waiting until a child is in grade 3+ to see if extra support is needed


We want all children to become stronger readers, and for some children, this requires support outside of the classroom. We hope this list helps you determine whether your child is getting the absolute best support possible. If your child is being taught using the approaches in the list above, it might be time to consider an alternative approach.


At We Communicate, our team of speech-language pathologists help so many children become stronger more confident readers. Using the research behind reading combined with how speech & language impact reading, we support your child’s reading journey from the foundation up! You can find more about how we do this here. If you are ready for a new approach that can help your child become a stronger, more confident reader this school year, complete our online form today. Imagine what could change for your child if they became a stronger reader this year!


We come to your home in:

📍Kitchener-Waterloo

📍Cambridge

📍Norfolk County

📍Haldimand County

📍Brantford


We see families through video conferencing who live:

💻 Anywhere in Ontario


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