Helping seven year old improve reading skills

I have a seven-year-old son who is entering second grade. He has some difficulty with his reading. He stumbles on the words, trying to sound them out. I am considering using the Sylvan Learning Center to help him. Can you please share your thoughts on this option, and any others, that might help my child become a better reader?

Question:

Thank you for sharing your concern about your child's reading skills. This is not an uncommon problem. I think that many of our community members here at ParentsPlace.com would benefit from a discussion on educational support alternatives.

To begin with, I would like to commend you for taking a proactive approach in helping your son to improve his skills. It is important for parents to be involved in their child's education from birth through the college years, and you are obviously very in tune with your child's needs.

There are many educational support alternatives available, one of which is the Sylvan Learning Center, whose focus is to improve the academic skills of children. These programs offer one-on-one teaching in the skill areas in which your child needs extra assistance. Generally speaking, these organizations will begin with an assessment of your child's skills. The battery of tests used to assess your child are usually quite precise in analyzing your child's strengths and weaknesses, which allows the teachers to work on those areas where your child needs the most support. They may also check for learning disabilities with their assessments, which will help them to serve your child better. If your child does have a learning disability, they can teach him ways to compensate for it. Drawbacks to these programs are the cost involved and the time commitment. If you can afford the services and you think that your child can handle an extra few hours per week of structured learning time, these programs can benefit your child.

Another educational support alternative is to hire a teacher as a tutor for your child. Your school district may be able to supply you with a list of teachers who will tutor children beyond the school day for a fee. If not, advertising in the classified section of your local newspaper could also work. Hiring a tutor can be more cost-effective than using one of the big name services and the tutoring can often be done in your own home. You can work with the tutor to establish objectives for your child and meet regularly to check on his progress. Tutors may not have as many resources as an established center may have, but, generally speaking, they are well-prepared for one-on-one teaching.

A third alternative is to seek additional academic support from the school itself. Approach your child's teacher about your concerns and inquire as to what services may be available from the school or school district to help your son improve his reading skills. Some schools have tutoring services for students before and after school utilizing a combination of peer and adult tutors. Your child may also qualify for special reading programs at school that you are not yet aware of. In addition to seeing what the school offers in terms of services, a meeting with your child's teacher will also allow you to hear her assessment of your son's skills. She may know of some other alternatives not mentioned here, so it is best to work in conjunction with your child's teacher to select an appropriate course of action.

Finally, remember that you make an enormous impact on your son's life. By continuing to read with him at home and encouraging him to read books that are at his reading level, you are helping him to improve his skills. Good luck to you and your son.

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