Why Some Children Struggle to Learn to Read

Article below…


Most children look forward to learning to read, a process whereby they learn to transform what are essentially abstract squiggles on a page into meaningful letters and then sounds and then words, and then entire sentences and paragraphs.

Reading represents a code: specifically, an alphabetic code. A great number of children are able to break the code after a year of instruction. For the rest, however, unless we intervene, reading remains beyond their reach after one, two, or even more years of schooling.

To understand what causes reading difficulties we need to take note of the fact that learning is a stratified process, in which one skill has to be acquired first, before it becomes possible to acquire subsequent skills. It is like climbing a ladder. If you miss one of the rungs you fall off.

Language is the first rung

Di dunia kini kita, tiap orang harus dapat membaca… Unless one has first learned to speak Bahasa Indonesia, there is no way that one would be able to read the above Indonesian sentence. This shows that language is at the very bottom of the reading ladder. Its role in reading can be compared to the role of running in the game of soccer. One cannot play soccer if one cannot run. One cannot read a language unless one knows the particular language well.

The second rung

The game of soccer consists of many fragmented elements or skills — passing, shooting, heading, etc. Before any child is expected to play in a full-game situation, they should first be trained to pass, shoot and head the ball. It is the same with reading. Cognitive skills, such as visual processing, auditory processing and auditory memory form the foundation of reading, and must be taught first.

Visual processing is one of the important cognitive skills and refers to the ability to make sense of information taken in through the eyes. Visual processing skills include the ability to discriminate between foreground and background, color, shapes, sizes and position in space. Last-mentioned refers to the ability to accurately perceive objects in space with reference to other objects. A person with a spatial problem may find it difficult to distinguish letters like b and d, as well as n and u.

Auditory processing skills include auditory discrimination. This refers to the ability to hear similarities and differences between sounds. Auditory blending is the ability to put individual sounds together which form a word. The child who has a difficulty in this area is unable to blend the individual sounds in a word, such as /c-a-t/. The child may know the individual phonemes but simply cannot put them together.

Auditory memory important for phonics

According neurodevelopmentalist Cyndi Ringoen, a poor auditory short-term memory is often the cause of a child’s inability to learn to read using the phonics method. Phonics is an auditory learning system, and it is imperative to have a sufficient auditory short-term memory in order to learn, utilise and understand reading using the phonics method.

According to Ringoen, in order to begin to utilize phonics beyond memorizing a few individual sounds, a child must have an auditory digit span close to six. Digit span is a common measure of short-term memory, i.e. the number of digits a person can absorb and recall in correct serial order after hearing them or seeing them.

To test the auditory digit span of a child, say numbers slowly in one second intervals, in a monotone voice. Say, for example, 6-1-5-8 and have the child repeat it back. If they can, then say 9-2-4-7-5. The child must be able to say a 4 digit sequence back correctly 75% of the time on the first try to be considered at a short-term memory of 4, and it is the same for each higher digit.

How can Edublox help?

Edublox specializes in cognitive training that makes learners smarter, and help them read faster, easier, and better. Edublox Reading Tutor addresses:

  • Concentration: Focused and sustained attention.
  • Perceptual skills: Visual and auditory foreground-background differentiation; visual and auditory discrimination, synthesis and analysis; form discrimination; spatial relations.
  • Memory: Visual, auditory, sequential, iconic, short-term, long-term and working memory.
  • Logical thinking and reasoning.
  • Reading, spelling, vocabulary and comprehension.
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More About Edublox Online Tutor

Edublox Online Tutor offers multisensory cognitive training, aimed at developing and automatizing the foundational skills of reading and spelling, as well as application in the form of reading and spelling exercises. Edublox programs are effective for a variety of learning difficulties. Watch our demo video below.

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Success stories…

Enjoy the stories of students who overcame reading problems. Your child can too!


Overcoming severe dyslexia – Maddie’s diary: 

Maddie has been diagnosed with severe dyslexia, moderate dyscalculia and ADHD. The video below summarizes her progress after doing Edublox for 24 weeks:

Read Maddie’s full story and view her ongoing progress here.


Allen’s story:

Over a period of six weeks, teachers Peggy Anderson and Carole Derrick evaluated Edublox to determine its effectiveness for ADD and dyslexic students. They reported their findings to their colleagues at the Kennesaw State University.

Allen, one of their students, was diagnosed with dyslexia. Click on the logo to read his story.


Adam’s story:

Adam’s reading was slow and halting. He would skip words and sentences and had difficulty understanding what he had just read. Reading used to be so much work for him that he didn’t enjoy it and only read when he had to. 

Fortunately, his mother found Edublox… Click on his photo to read his story. 


Jeremie’s story:

When Jeremie was near the end of Grade 2, he was diagnosed as being dyslexic. He had been struggling in school since kindergarten. His tests showed an average intelligence but he couldn’t learn to read and write like all his friends. This took a big toll on his self-esteem and he went from a happy, secure child to a depressed, insecure one.

Fortunately, Jeremie’s mother found Edublox… Click on his photo to read his story. 


Ryan’s story:

After years of therapy Shirley Lindecke’s son was still struggling with reading and learning. But then she heard about Edublox and her son’s life changed. Listen to her story as told on the radio.


Anne’s story:

Anne showed “dyslexic symptoms” and scored about 1 year behind the average for reading on the national SATs. A year after starting Edublox she scored a reading age of 10.02 years against a chronological age of 9.6 years. Click on the image to read her story.