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What does a reading comprehension problem look like?

My son can read very well. He reads the words but doesn't seem to understand them. He just can't seem to remember what the story was about. Some times he can't remember even after he rereads the story. Is this a reading problem?

It can be. It sounds like your son is doing quite well in the area of letter sound relationships, so there's a lot to build on. If your son can read the words fine but cannot understand and/or remember the story, he probably has some of the same troubles with oral language. He may not remember oral directions, may not remember what happened in a movie or may have a hard time following a complex conversation. This kind of problem is sometimes classified as a "reading comprehension" problem, but it should really be called a "language comprehension" problem, since the difficulty probably isn't specific to just reading. On the other hand, some children put so much cognitive energy into "sounding right" when they read that they don't focus on meaning. I have observed this most often when the student is reading aloud to an adult. Think about when you have to read a passage that has very difficult words in it, words that you don't use often. (Like an engine manual for a tractor) By concentrating on sounding out these unfamiliar words, you may not be attending to the concept of the passage. Try to observe your child to see if he has the same kind of difficulties understanding and remembering oral conversation. If he does, it may be a language comprehension weakness. If he doesn't, it may be a reading weakness. Either way, having him assessed to determine his exact reading strategies is probably your best bet.

Tags: reading comprehension, reading fluency, reading problem

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