If your child is reading a grade-level book and exhibits the following signs, you may want to think about hiring a reading tutor:
A child who reads at her normal volume and then suddenly, when a challenging word appears, begins to whisper, probably needs a reading tutor. Children who whisper over big words are not displaying confidence or the decoding skills necessary to read sound-by-sound or syllable-by-syllable.
The Diverting Eye
A child who struggles with decoding will rely heavily on pictures. She will subtly look at the pictures in between looking at words and try to guess what the book says. A good reader will only look to the pictures either before or after reading the words. Also, the parent can perform a kind of test. Cover the pictures on EVERY PAGE before she has a chance to look at them. See if she is still able to read the words. This classic test will prove a diverting eye every time.
This child relies heavily on context to read words, which results in some odd sounding sentences. For example, this reader will look to the first letter or first few letters in a word and then say something that seems to match. She’ll read “connect” for “common” or “train” for “transport.” She’ll spew out odd sentences like, “The train made a lot of connection” instead of “The train made a lot of commotion.” If you encourage her to analyze “commotion” and correct herself, she won’t be able to go through the word syllable-by-syllable. This reader needs help with her decoding skills.
This reader will amaze you with what she can pronounce. She may seem to be reading a couple years above grade-level. She can also read quickly. However, when asked about what she just read, she has no idea! This reader needs help with visualizing language as well as vocabulary development.
The Slow Reader
Fluency and automaticity can seriously impair reading comprehension. This student needs to be tested for decoding abilities. If she demonstrates solid decoding skills, she needs to learn to love books and read A LOT! If the problem is fluency, you don’t necessarily need a reading tutor. Frequent daily reading will improve fluency like nothing else.