Every child learns at their own pace. Some children might quickly develop reading skills, whereas others may take longer to master these skills. Because every child is unique, it’s hard for parents and teachers to determine when a child is falling behind.
However, it’s important to know how to spot the signs that your child is struggling. This is especially true in 1st grade, when children first start to focus on developing crucial reading skills. Knowing how to determine if your 1st grader is struggling with reading is the key to getting them the help they need to succeed.
What Should A 1st Grader Be Able to Read?
First graders will focus on improving their reading skills throughout the school year. By the end of the year, children at this age should be able to read and understand grade-level books.
Before moving onto second grade, 1st graders should also be able to read about 150 “sight words.” These are words that need to be memorized because they don’t follow traditional spelling rules. Some examples of sight words include “the,” “who,” “does,” and “their.”
Your 1st grader’s vocabulary should be expanding rapidly to include longer and more complex words. This is because children at this age should be starting to gain a better understanding of how sounds and syllables work.
Many first graders will start to identify and correct their own reading mistakes. For example, they may use context clues in the story to determine that they made a mistake.
How Do You Identify Learners With Reading Difficulties?
Spotting the signs that your 1st grader is struggling with reading is important. Why? Educators believe that it is in first grade that children start to define themselves as either poor, average, or above average readers. If your child is struggling, now is the time to give them the tools they need to improve.
Here are some of the signs to look for:
- Guessing More Than Reading
- Unable to Read Nonsense Words
- Significant Spelling Errors
- Unable to Remember Words
Guessing More Than Reading
Young readers are encouraged to use context clues to figure out what a word means. For example, a young reader may figure out how to pronounce the word “monkey” if it’s on a page with an illustration of a monkey.
This is referred to as “guessing using context,” and it’s a great way to learn new words. But if children are guessing without context, this could be a sign that they are struggling to read. They may guess words that make no sense or don’t fit in with the rest of the sentence. If children start to guess more than they actually read, they may be falling behind in reading.
Unable to Read Nonsense Words
First graders should be familiar with the sound that each letter makes and know how to blend sounds together to form words. Without these skills, children will not be able to sound out and learn new words.
To test your child’s skills, ask them to read made-up words aloud. For example, ask your child to read the words “gat” and “fep” aloud. These aren’t real words, so your child will have to rely on their skills to determine how to pronounce them. If your child is unable to read simple nonsense words, this could mean that they need to improve their phonics skills.
Significant Spelling Errors
It’s normal for children to make spelling errors at this age. However, if your child is making significant spelling errors, it could indicate that they are struggling to read.
For example, leaving a single letter out isn’t a major mistake, but leaving an entire syllable out of a word is a significant spelling error.
Unable to Remember Words
Your child may run into several words that they are not familiar with when reading a story for the first time. If they encounter an unfamiliar word, they should try to sound it out before moving on. The next time they encounter this word in the story, they should be able to read it without hesitation.
If your child is stopping to sound out the same word over and over again, this is a red flag. Failing to remember words could indicate that your child is unable to pay attention or process the information that they are reading.
How Do You Help 1st Graders Who Are Struggling With Reading?
It’s important to give your 1st grader the tools and resources they need to improve their reading skills. Start by downloading the Readability app on your smartphone or tablet. Using the app, your 1st grader can connect with a virtual tutor to work on their phonics, spelling, pronunciation, and other crucial reading skills. This is the best tool to help struggling readers dramatically improve their reading skills within 90 days. Sign up for a free 7-day trial today.