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Help! My Child Hates Reading

By Dr. Ruth Jacoby, Educational Consultant


My son seems to be having difficulty with the transition from phonics (knowing the sounds that letters make) to actually sounding out words. It just has not "clicked yet," and his reading homework easily frustrates him. Homework sessions quickly degenerate into him crying and him telling us he "hates reading." Do you have any suggestions on how we can turn this around?


First, plan a conference with the teacher and explain the homework hassles you are having. See if she can offer any suggestions that would ease the frustrations that are occurring for the family. Always be prepared for a parent-teacher conference with a list of your concerns, samples of school work that you may have questions about, a list of all your questions on the school curriculum and routine, and a file of some possible strategies that you have.

A great strategy to offer the teacher is to have your child's homework broken down into smaller segments and then have them increase as your child gets proficient and more self-confident in his ability to read. You may also ask if she can work with him in small groups with the other children in the class who are exhibiting similar difficulties.

You may also wish to purchase alphabet letter cards or flash cards and practice putting "word families" together. For example, put together the letters to form "it" and then put the 's' card in front of it, then put a "p" card and so on. Practice writing the new words and maybe drawing pictures of them. You can also write silly stories together with the new words your child has learned from the "word families." Practice reading these stories with your child as part of the nightly ritual before bedtime.

Dr. Ruth Jacoby has been involved in education for more than 30 years as an educator, principal and currently as an educational consultant in Florida. She is the co-author of the School Talk! Success Series including Parent Talk!: The Art of Effective Communication With the School and Your Child, Homework Talk!: The Art of Effective Communication About Your Child's Homework and Test Talk!: Understanding the Stakes and Helping Your Children Do Their Best.

Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.

Comments from readers

"i love the ide about the alphabet flash card to make ' word families ' using the letters. my son who will is in first grade at the present time kinda has some of the sane problems that the child did in this artice and i had him tested for title 1 reading but he doesn;t need it because he is bright enough he just needs to apply himself more, i can see mself using the flash cards."