Causes of Reading Difficulty

Stress Spirals

Stress is not just a result of reading difficulty. Stress itself can cause the thinking-brain to shut down, making reading nearly impossible.

What stress really is, inside your body

“Stress” is such a buzzword these days that it’s hard to hone in on what it actually is.

You might have heard of “fight, flight, or freeze”. These are the three classic stress states that your body enters into under duress. When confronted with fear or excitement, your brain chooses one of those paths. And in all three of them, it shuts down the higher thinking areas of cortex, and focuses energy to the basic brain stem functions. In real life, this translates into increased emotion, and decreased ability to think clearly.

Back in our hunter-gatherer days, that reaction is really useful when confronted with a predator! It means you can shut up and run, or hide, or fight.

But nowadays, that same stress response is not very helpful in many modern situations. Like learning to read, which is completely a higher brain function. If a child is feeling stressed about reading, then reading itself becomes more difficult, if not impossible.

For many children struggling to read, the act of reading becomes such a cycle of failure and stress that they can’t even try at all. It’s easy to become frustrated, as a parent, too. You must lower the stress level before any reading practice can become effective.

Fixing stress spirals

Managing your child’s psychology around reading is about half of what we focus on through the Easyread supported reading system.

We use decoding and blending games, reward prizes for the learner, messages of encouragement, silly – even slightly rude – humor to get kids giggling… reducing stress spirals so the brain is freed up to learn is a serious business for us. And a key to our very high rates of success. If you are not working with Easyread, then you can achieve something similar by keeping reading practice light, fun, and encouraging. Focus on praise rather than negatives, even when correcting a child.

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