If your child is struggling to read at grade level, a vision problem may be the underlying cause.
Many children struggle with reading, especially in the beginning, as they become familiar with all the various shapes and sounds of the letters.
However, if your child’s reading skills don’t seem to be improving with time, they may have a vision problem that is preventing their ability to progress.
Signs of a vision problem
If your child exhibits any of the following behaviors while reading, they may have a vision problem:
- Closing one eye
- Using a finger to keep their place
- Tilting their head
- Rubbing their eyes
- Holding the book either too close or too far away
These behaviors are often signs of a functional vision problem, such as binocular vision dysfunction (BVD), that can make reading difficult.
Early detection of a vision problem is key
Unfortunately, reading difficulties often result in reading avoidance, mostly because it takes too much effort and often leads to eyestrain and headaches.
However, reading is a skill that is important for life. It is not only essential for learning, but for sparking creativity and imagination, as well as relaxing and connecting with other people.
It is therefore crucial to detect vision problems from an early age, as this can influence a child’s attitude toward reading in the future.
For this reason, the American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends having your child’s eyes examined even before they begin their school years — to facilitate early detection of a vision problem that can hinder their academic performance.
A comprehensive eye exam will assess your child’s functional vision to ensure they have all the necessary skills to help them become a successful reader.
If your child has a vision problem, a customized program of vision therapy can help strengthen the visual skills, to make learning to read an easier process.
SEE RELATED: Gifts That Build Your Child’s Visual Skills
Schedule an appointment with an eye doctor near you to find out if a vision problem is preventing your child from mastering their reading skills.
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How to improve your child’s reading skills?
The most practical way to improve your child’s reading is to encourage reading for enjoyment. This will not only make reading more fun, but will allow your child to gain confidence with practice, as the famous saying goes, “Practice makes perfect”.
Developing your child’s confidence and love of reading can be accomplished through the following tips:
1. Find books your child connects with
Find books at the level where your child is comfortable and allow them to enjoy their first reading experiences. Even if these first books are below their school grade level, they will help your child to develop confidence in their reading skills.
Once they feel more comfortable, you can introduce the next level of reading.
Keeping a variety of age-appropriate books around the house, with varying genres, authors and characters will help to further encourage your child’s progress in reading.
2. Make reading a bonding experience
Show your child how much you look forward to reading with them by limiting all distractions when you read together.
Whether your child is reading to you, or you are both relaxing with a good book, the key is to do it together. This will not only create beautiful memories, but will also foster positive associations when it comes to reading.
3. Be available to answer any questions
Encourage your child to ask questions while they read to help them gain a better understanding of the material.
This will help improve their reading comprehension and alert you to any reading difficulties early on.
4. Encourage reading aloud
Reading aloud can help your child to decode words more easily, while enabling you to facilitate. It also allows you to ask your child questions about the text, helping them to gain a better understanding of the material.
Can an eye doctor help to improve your child’s reading skills?
If your child has a functional vision problem, such as convergence insufficiency or binocular vision dysfunction, vision therapy can help.
Vision therapy is a personalized program that aims to strengthen the visual skills necessary for reading, writing and learning.
Through specialized lenses, prisms, occluders and a variety of eye exercises, your eye doctor can help to retrain your child’s eyes and brain to work together more efficiently. This in turn, will yield improvement in your child’s reading skills.
LEARN MORE: Children’s Vision
If your child is showing signs of a reading problem, schedule a functional vision evaluation with an eye doctor near you to assess your child’s visual skills.
Reading is a skill that is important for life. It is not only essential for learning, but for sparking creativity and imagination, as well as relaxing and connecting with other people.
If your child’s reading skills don’t seem to be improving with time, they may have a vision problem that is preventing their ability to progress.
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