If you see your child struggling or becoming frustrated with learning to read, take action immediately. Reading is NOT a developmental stage that children reach at different ages. Kids who are struggling do not always catch up on their own, and most need specific, targeted instruction to succeed. The earlier you step in to help ensure they get the help they need, the better.
Be mindful of mental health
Little kids have big feelings. Struggling to learn to read while watching others pick it up easily can leave a child feeling inadequate, frustrated and angry. What starts out as a reading difficulty can often evolve into much bigger social and emotional issues that can cause problems both at school and at home. See IDA Ontario's tips on supporting your child emotionally to learn more.
Learn about the science of reading
Over the past 30+ years, scientists in labs and classrooms around the world have been studying how we read, how we learn to read, and the most efficient and effective ways to teach reading. Collectively, their findings are considered well established "settled science," meaning that the best way to teach reading is no longer simply a matter of opinion. Trying to help a child learn to read without knowing a bit about these findings make the task far more difficult than it needs to be, for both you and the child. See the science of reading page on the IDA Ontario website or watch this three minute YouTube video to get started.
Use a Structured Literacy approachStructured Literacy is an approach to reading instruction that aligns with the science of reading. Evidence shows that this approach is effective for teaching all children to read, and essential for kids who struggle. Because the Ontario curriculum has not kept up with the science, your child is most likely not getting this type of instruction in the classroom. Some special-education intervention programs do use this approach, but it is often too little and/or too late. For parents who wish to learn more about how they can support their child using Structured Literacy methods, the IDA Ontario website has free resources to help.
Our teachers are working hard and our schools have invested a lot of time, effort, and money in programs designed to improve literacy outcomes, yet more than 30% of students in Ontario are still not achieving basic literacy standards. One barrier to better literacy outcomes is the that Ontario Curriculum requires classroom teachers to use instructional strategies that are not evidence-based. This sets up both teachers and students to fail. Demand better: write to your principal, school board, and MPP to demand a curriculum updates based on the science of reading!