Reading is one of the most important skills we learn in school. For some children, developing strong reading comprehension can be a major challenge. If your child is struggling to understand what they read, you may be wondering what types of schools or programs can help.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Specialized schools and programs exist to assist children who have difficulty with reading comprehension. These use evidence-based techniques to build foundational literacy skills.

In this comprehensive guide, we will dive into the details of schools and programs tailored for children who struggle with reading comprehension. We’ll discuss warning signs of a reading comprehension problem, the root causes, and how specialized schools/programs can help.

You’ll also find tips on how to support your child’s reading comprehension at home.

Signs Your Child May Be Struggling with Reading Comprehension

Trouble Retelling or Summarizing What They’ve Read

One of the signs that your child may be struggling with reading comprehension is if they have difficulty retelling or summarizing what they have read. This can manifest as a struggle to recall the main points, important details, or the overall message of a story or passage.

It may also be challenging for them to organize their thoughts and effectively communicate their understanding of the text. If your child consistently has trouble explaining what they have read, it could be an indication that they need extra support in developing their reading comprehension skills.

Difficulty Answering Questions about Stories

Another sign of reading comprehension struggles is when a child has difficulty answering questions about stories. This can include questions about the characters, plot, setting, or theme of a story. They may struggle to identify key details or make connections between different parts of the text.

Additionally, if your child frequently misinterprets questions or provides vague or unrelated answers, it could be a sign that their reading comprehension skills need improvement.

Problems Following Written Instructions

Children who struggle with reading comprehension may also have difficulty following written instructions. They may find it challenging to understand and carry out multi-step directions or tasks that require them to comprehend written information.

This can impact their performance in various academic subjects, as well as their ability to complete assignments or tasks independently. If your child consistently struggles with following written instructions, it may be an indication that they need additional support in developing their reading comprehension skills.

Avoids Reading Altogether

Children who are struggling with reading comprehension may start to avoid reading altogether. They may express disinterest or frustration when asked to read, and actively seek ways to avoid engaging with text.

This can be a result of feeling overwhelmed or discouraged by their difficulties in understanding and comprehending written material. If your child consistently avoids reading or shows a strong dislike for it, it is important to address their reading comprehension challenges and provide the necessary support to help them become confident and successful readers.

Common Causes of Poor Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension is a crucial skill that allows individuals to understand and interpret written texts. However, some children may struggle with this skill, which can impact their academic performance and overall learning experience.

There are several common causes of poor reading comprehension that educators and parents should be aware of in order to provide the necessary support and interventions for these children.

Weak Decoding Skills

One of the primary causes of poor reading comprehension is weak decoding skills. Decoding refers to the ability to recognize and understand individual words. Children with weak decoding skills may struggle to accurately sound out words, making it difficult for them to understand the overall meaning of the text.

This can result in frustration and a lack of motivation to read.

Insufficient Vocabulary

A limited vocabulary can also hinder reading comprehension. When children encounter unfamiliar words in a text, they may struggle to understand the context and meaning of the sentence or paragraph. Building a strong vocabulary is essential for enhancing reading comprehension.

Encouraging children to read a variety of materials and exposing them to new words through conversations and activities can help expand their vocabulary.

Underdeveloped Language Skills

Language skills play a crucial role in reading comprehension. Children with underdeveloped language skills may struggle to understand the nuances of language, such as figurative language or complex sentence structures.

Additionally, difficulties with grammar and syntax can impede their ability to comprehend written texts. Encouraging children to engage in activities that promote language development, such as storytelling or discussions, can help improve their reading comprehension.

Problems with Focus or Memory

Children who have problems with focus or memory may also struggle with reading comprehension. These difficulties can make it challenging for them to maintain concentration while reading, leading to gaps in understanding.

Additionally, poor memory skills can hinder their ability to retain information from the text, making it difficult to connect ideas and concepts. Identifying and addressing these underlying attention or memory issues can significantly improve reading comprehension.

Lack of Background Knowledge

Another common cause of poor reading comprehension is a lack of background knowledge. A strong foundation of knowledge in various subject areas allows children to make connections and understand the content of a text more effectively.

Without the necessary background knowledge, children may struggle to comprehend the context, references, or underlying concepts in a text. Encouraging children to explore different topics and providing opportunities for real-world experiences can help bridge these knowledge gaps.

It is important to note that each child is unique, and the causes of poor reading comprehension may vary from one individual to another. Identifying the specific factors contributing to a child’s struggles with reading comprehension is essential in order to provide targeted support and interventions.

Benefits of a Specialized Reading Comprehension Program

When it comes to helping children struggling with reading comprehension, a specialized program can make a world of difference. These programs are specifically designed to target the unique needs of students who struggle to understand and interpret written text.

Here are some of the key benefits of enrolling in a specialized reading comprehension program:

Smaller Class Sizes

In a specialized reading comprehension program, class sizes tend to be smaller. This allows for more individualized attention and support for each student. With fewer students in the classroom, teachers can spend more time working one-on-one with students, identifying their specific challenges, and providing targeted interventions.

Research has shown that smaller class sizes can have a significant positive impact on student learning outcomes.

Targeted Skill-Building

A specialized reading comprehension program focuses on developing and strengthening the specific skills needed for comprehension. This includes skills such as identifying main ideas, making inferences, summarizing, and understanding vocabulary in context.

By targeting these specific skills, students can make significant progress in their reading comprehension abilities. The program may use a variety of instructional strategies, such as explicit instruction, graphic organizers, and guided practice, to help students master these skills.

Accommodations and Modifications

Children struggling with reading comprehension often require accommodations and modifications to support their learning. A specialized program understands these needs and provides the necessary accommodations to help students access the curriculum and demonstrate their understanding.

This may include providing extra time for reading assignments, offering audio versions of texts, or providing visual aids to enhance comprehension. By removing barriers to learning, students can fully engage with the material and improve their comprehension.

Specialized Training for Teachers

Teachers in specialized reading comprehension programs receive specialized training to effectively support struggling readers. They are equipped with evidence-based instructional strategies and interventions that have been proven to work.

This specialized training allows teachers to tailor their instruction to meet the individual needs of each student. By staying up-to-date with the latest research and best practices, these teachers are able to provide high-quality instruction and support to help students overcome their reading comprehension challenges.

Social-Emotional Support

Struggling with reading comprehension can be frustrating and discouraging for students. A specialized reading comprehension program recognizes the importance of addressing the social-emotional needs of students as well.

Teachers in these programs create a supportive and nurturing environment where students feel safe to take risks, ask questions, and seek help. By addressing the social-emotional aspect of learning, students can develop the confidence and motivation needed to improve their reading comprehension skills.

Types of Schools and Programs for Reading Comprehension Challenges

When children struggle with reading comprehension, there are various types of schools and programs available to help them overcome these challenges. Each option offers unique benefits and approaches to address the specific needs of students.

Public School Special Education Services

Public schools often have special education services in place to support students with reading comprehension difficulties. These services can include individualized education plans (IEPs), resource rooms, and specialized instruction from trained educators.

Public schools may also offer interventions and accommodations to help students improve their reading comprehension skills within a mainstream classroom setting.

Private Special Education Schools

Private special education schools are another option for children struggling with reading comprehension. These schools have smaller class sizes and often provide more personalized attention to students. They typically have specialized programs and educators trained in addressing reading challenges.

Private special education schools can offer a supportive and nurturing environment specifically designed to meet the needs of students with reading comprehension difficulties.

Reading Clinics and Tutoring Centers

Reading clinics and tutoring centers are excellent resources for children struggling with reading comprehension. These centers employ trained professionals who specialize in diagnosing and addressing reading difficulties.

They offer one-on-one tutoring sessions tailored to the individual needs of the student. These sessions focus on building foundational reading skills, improving comprehension strategies, and fostering a love for reading.

Reading clinics and tutoring centers often use evidence-based interventions and techniques to help children improve their reading comprehension.

Online Reading Comprehension Programs

In today’s digital age, online reading comprehension programs have become increasingly popular. These programs provide flexibility and convenience for students and their families. Online programs offer interactive lessons, guided practice activities, and assessments to track progress.

Many of these programs utilize research-based strategies to enhance reading comprehension skills. They often include engaging multimedia elements and adaptive features to cater to individual learning styles.

It is important to note that the effectiveness of these programs may vary, and it is crucial to choose a reputable and research-backed online reading comprehension program. Websites like and offer online reading comprehension resources and programs that have been proven to be effective.

Tips for Improving Reading Comprehension at Home

Read Aloud Together Every Day

One of the most effective ways to improve reading comprehension is by reading aloud together every day. This not only helps children develop their reading skills, but it also provides an opportunity for them to hear proper pronunciation and intonation.

By reading aloud together, parents can model good reading habits and engage in discussions about the text. According to a study conducted by the Reading Rockets, reading aloud helps children build vocabulary, understand sentence structure, and make connections between the text and their own experiences.

Ask Questions During and After Reading

Asking questions during and after reading is another effective strategy to improve reading comprehension. Encourage your child to think critically about the text by asking open-ended questions such as “Why do you think the character made that decision?” or “What do you think will happen next?”.

This helps children engage with the material and promotes deeper understanding. According to the Reading Rockets, the act of questioning helps children become active readers and enhances their ability to make predictions and draw conclusions.

Limit Distractions

In order to improve reading comprehension, it is important to create a quiet and focused environment. Limit distractions such as television, video games, and other electronic devices that can divert attention away from the text.

By creating a calm and quiet space, children can fully immerse themselves in the reading material and better comprehend the content. Research conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information shows that distractions can negatively impact reading comprehension and overall reading performance.

Act Out or Draw Parts of the Story

Engaging in activities that bring the story to life can greatly enhance reading comprehension. Encourage your child to act out scenes from the book or draw pictures that represent key events. This helps children visualize the story and make deeper connections with the characters and plot.

According to a study published in the Teaching and Teacher Education journal, incorporating drama and art into reading activities improves students’ comprehension and overall enjoyment of the text.

Make Text-to-Self Connections

One effective way to improve reading comprehension is by making text-to-self connections. Encourage your child to relate the text to their own experiences, feelings, or knowledge. This helps children make personal connections with the material and enhances their understanding.

According to Edutopia, making text-to-self connections improves reading engagement and helps children make sense of the text by relating it to their own lives.


If your child struggles to understand and engage with what they read, specialized support can make all the difference. While every child learns differently, programs that target reading comprehension through evidence-based strategies have proven effective.

Reach out to your child’s school and healthcare providers to discuss options. With the right help, your child can gain the literacy skills necessary for academic and lifelong success.

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