Solutions for Tracking Troubles when Reading

Grandfather reading with granddaughter

Tracking trouble when reading: Does your child seem to have trouble staying on the same line when he is reading? There are a number of ways to deal with this:

  • Finger tracking: The traditional way is for the child to run his finger under the words as he reads, or if this is difficult for him, you can run your finger under the words for him. Some children seem to do better with a finger run along above the words–you can do this for the child (hopefully, you are able to read upsidedown!).
  • Pointer tracking: Similar to finger tracking, but use a pen tip or other pointer. If you do this, use a pointer in a plain, dark color. Bright colors and patterns can be very distracting.
  • Ruler, bookmark, or piece of paper: Use one of these items, and move it down line by line. Again, avoid items that are distracting.
  • Framing: Make a “frame” that is the width and height of the lines (you can easily cut it out of a piece of paper); this will blank out the rest of the lines and focus the child’s eyes on the line being read.
  • Lightly tinted plastic: Use a sheet of lightly tinted plastic laid over a page (amber is often a good colour choice); this really helps for some children, especially for pages that have a very white background. The colour of the plastic sheet also dims bright, distracting pictures on the page.

When you are a distraction: Some children who are unsure of themselves will constantly look at you for confirmation of each word they read or write. Some suggestions:

  • Seating arrangement: Sit beside the child but slightly back so you are looking over her shoulder and she can’t easily see you. Or have the child sit on your lap, facing forward.
  • Book placement: If necessary, hold the book in such a way that it is between your face and the child’s face.

If these methods do not work, your child may have a focusing (convergence) problem with his eyes and need medical intervention, including special glasses and/or vision therapy. For more information check out this article on Eye Teaming, Focusing, and Tracking.

What methods have you used to overcome problems with tracking? Please share them in the comments below. Thank you!

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