Why Reading Ability Affects Students in All Subjects

By Huntington Learning Center

If there is one skill that increases students’ academic success the most, it is reading. Reading ability is essential not only for literacy development but also for learning subjects like math and science.  

Children who grapple with reading at a young age and do not overcome those challenges often go on to struggle in other subjects too. At Huntington, we see that a student’s reading ability is directly linked to their writing ability. But we also know that weak reading comprehension is not a standalone problem. The ability to read well is critical for understanding new concepts and ideas in all subjects. As students move from grade to grade and material becomes more complex, that lack of strong reading ability can prevent them from progressing in subjects like math and science, which require critical thinking, problem-solving and data interpretation.

Learning Depends on Reading 

Put simply, reading is the gateway to acquiring new knowledge. Here are a few examples of how students rely upon their reading skills in other school subjects: 

  • Writing –When students read a prompt, they need to understand how to develop a well-written response to address that prompt. Writing is the active form of reading and students must understand how words make sentences, sentences make paragraphs, and paragraphs bring thoughts together in an essay or story.
  • History –Students encounter numerous facts, details, cause-and-effect situations, as well as new vocabulary and old historic terms when learning Reading helps them understand a specific event and the impact it had on a community. 
  • Math –Math requires reading and breaking down a word problem which includes recognizing the need for multiple steps, identifying the core question, and creating numerical equations to solve the problem. 
  • Science – Students need to sift through scientific terminology, learn to read data, and understand a written hypothesis. Literacy is vital for scientific study: read; research; write; repeat.  

While the signs of reading struggles are often fairly obvious, it takes time for parents to see reading problems impacting other subjects. In early elementary school, a subject like science might involve doing hands-on experiments more than having students read and interpret data. So, a child who has problems with reading might not necessarily struggle with science. However, as time goes on, those reading deficits will start to hold back that student from succeeding in other subjects. The problems can become more obvious across multiple subjects.

Reading Well Begins with Reading for Pleasure  

Reading for fun helps students improve their vocabulary, communication skills, interpretation skills, research ability and much more. Parents can encourage their child to read in many simple ways. Here are a few suggestions on how to raise a reader:  

  • Take your child to the library from a young age to explore their programs and reading activities.
  • Ask about what your child is reading. Talk about the characters they find interesting, what they think will happen in the next chapter, their predictions for the ending and  
  • Let your child see you “fun reading.” Be a good influence! 
  • Read books together. Read to your child often when they are young, and as your child becomes a more independent reader, they can read to you.  For older students, plan to read the same book as your child and make time to discuss important events in the book or end-of-chapter chats. 

Reading is essential in school, but we remind parents that reading is also a wonderful pastime that children can enjoy throughout their entire lives. And of course, the more children read, the better they become at it. Parents should do their best to encourage their child to read for fun because the effects are significant and long-lasting.

What To Do When a Child Struggles with Reading 

It’s hard to convince a child who struggles with reading to ever think of it as a fun activity. These struggling students are frustrated, and it is hard to get them motivated.  Learning to read is a complex, multi-step process, and children must acquire the fundamentals to become strong readers. Only then will they be able to read fluently, comprehend what they read and experience the joy of reading. Reading comprehension involves constructing meaning by connecting what a child reads with what they already know. Without the fundamentals, however, children will have a hard time making that leap.

What should you do if your child has difficulty with reading? Call Huntington. Our individualized reading programs help students acquire the reading skills they need to advance in school. Huntington’s tutors work one-on-one with students, first performing an academic evaluation to identify a student’s current abilities and areas of weakness. Then, they design a customized program of instruction to help students learn and master the skills they are missing.  

Help your child become a happier, more confident reader. Learn more about Huntington’s reading tutoring program and call 1-800 CAN LEARN to discuss what we can do for your child.  


Article Topics