Reading Struggles

Reading struggles are among the most frustrating struggles that a student can experience because reading is foundational to nearly all facets and topics of learning.

You might be interested to know that there are primarily three potential reasons why reading is difficult:

  1. The first potential reason has to do with poor instruction (in other words, reading skills weren’t effectively taught).
  2. The second potential reason has to do with missed classroom content (for example, from being distracted or absent as reading was being taught).
  3. The third potential reason has to do with a weakness in a cognitive skill, such as memory, auditory processing, or attention.

Tutoring can help the first two potential causes of reading struggles. But most reading struggles—some researchers say as high as 80 percent—are caused by weak cognitive skills. And of all the cognitive skills, auditory processing is the skill that, when weak, is most often linked to reading struggles.

Auditory processing has been called “what the brain does with what the ear hears,” and it’s the skill that drives “phonemic awareness” (the ability to identify, blend, break down, and analyze the kinds of sounds we use in words). Someone who struggles with phonemic awareness doesn’t always immediately do poorly in school. Sometimes kids and adults find ways to compensate…for a while. They discover other ways to read, like guessing, or memorizing the way words look. This can work in the beginning, until there are too many words to memorize. At some point, reading becomes exhausting—plus you simply can’t memorize all the words you need to know.

Programs, like brain training, exist that target and train auditory processing and other cognitive skills.