Common Reading Mistakes and How to Fix Them

As our kids learn to read more complex texts, they sometimes struggle to make sense of these more difficult to read pieces. There are many reasons why they may struggle. Let us take you through the most common mistakes kids can make and how you could help them fix those mistakes.

Wrong pronunciation

Wrong pronunciation reading mistake

When a child reads aloud, she or he can mispronounce a word. There could be two reasons for this. Either:

  • the text the child is reading is too difficult and the words are too hard to grasp, or
  • the student is being careless.

How to fix this:

Ask the child about the word in question. Could he/she try to read it again? If they still pronounce it wrong, help them by asking them to sound out the word phonetically. If they still struggle, help them with the phonetic analysis.

Reading word by word

Reading word by word mistake

Some students have trouble reading beyond one word at a time. Again, this could be the text is too hard. It could also mean the student struggles with recognizing words automatically.

How to fix this:

This is one of the reasons, teachers focus on learning sight words. With the use of flashcards, students can learn to automatically recognize the most common sight words to help them with reading fluency.

Further, learning to sound out words phonetically will help them with their fluency in reading.

Once they can put the words together in a more fluid way, they will find they start to understand sentences and, therefore, the content of the text.

Lack of word recognition

Lack of word recognition in reading

Some struggling readers are unable to recognize and identify words. As a result, they will take long pauses between words as they hesitate to read the unfamiliar words. The issue is self-explanatory. As they pause, they lose the flow and fail to understand what they are reading.

How to fix this:

Give your child an easier text to read. This will help him/her to gain confidence in reading more fluently. As they gain motivation, move to more difficult texts.

Also, work on vocabulary. Helping your kids learn a few new words every week will work in their favor.


Reversal of words in reading

Reversals take place when students confuse letters and words. A common confusion is between the letters b and d. Other students reverse entire words – such as “tub” for “but”.

How to fix this:

Work with your child on the reversal immediately. That may mean stopping them immediately when they are reading to you. Ask them to repeat the word. The method of slowing down and focusing on the word may have them correct the mistake. If not, you’ll want to work on letter and word recognition exercises to solve the specific problem.

Pointing whilst reading

Pointing whilst reading

Tracking the words from left to right with their finger, is a method some students adopt naturally. As they become better readers, though, you’ll see that the finger-tracking will slow down the pace of their reading.

How to fix this:

You’ll want to encourage your reader to take the finger away to see that they can still read the words in order. They may even find they are reading faster as a result.

Ignoring small, yet critical words

Ignoring small words in reading

In their enthusiasm to read fast, some students fail to read small or critical words in a sentence. As a result, they fail to comprehend, or misunderstand, what they are reading.

How to fix this:

Have the child work on texts with accompanying comprehension questions. If you see specific areas where the student is missing words, you can even add your own questions to catch the issue. You’ll want the child to re-read the passage (slower, this time) to find the correct answer to those questions.

Substituting words or inserting words

Substituting words in reading

At the other end of the spectrum, some students insert extra words from their heads when they read, or they substitute words from their mind, instead of reading the words on the page. This can change the meaning of the text quite significantly.

How to fix this:

A good way to correct this, is to ask your child questions that demand the exact word, or context, for a response. Help her/him revisit the sentence in question to re-read it more carefully.

Words that are spelled the same or in a similar way

Words that are spelled the same with different meanings

The English language is littered with words that are spelled the same, but with different meanings, and words that are spelled in a similar way. Both create issues for the beginner reader. Often, this problem arises from reading too fast. In the quest to get through the text fast, they lose the meaning of the words as they mistakenly interpret a word for one that has a similar spelling (or one that has a different meaning).

How to fix this:

It’s important to ask your child to retell what they just read. If you come across these misinterpretations, focus in on the word or words that led them to the wrong conclusions and work on recognizing those words.


Phrasing issues in reading

Some students have difficulties with breaking up the sentences into meaningful phrases. They will take breaks mid-sentence or continue the phrase beyond the punctuation.

How to fix this:

You’ll want to work on punctuation. Have your student work on punctuation exercises to learn why and how we use punctuation for reading. Then, the student can revisit the text to pay attention to the phrases and the meaning of each sentence.