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June 15, 2018

As adults, we take our ability to read for granted until we have a child who is just starting out. Learning to read is hard work, and it’s normal for kids to make mistakes along the way. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common mistakes early readers make when learning to read. By understanding the errors kids make and why, it’s easy to find solutions to correct those errors to get your blossoming reader back on track. 

Letter and sound confusion

The Problem: There’s a whole slew of letter and sound confusion errors that kids can make when they learn to read. For many of these errors, kids letter combinations that are visually similar. For example, the words “big” and “dig” look awfully similar, with the only difference being the first letter of each word. Kids might confuse these two words because they look so much alike. 

How to Fix It: Likewise, letter combinations that are similar can confuse kids, too. For instance, the words “mush” and “much” look similar, and both -sh and -ch letter combinations are common sounds; however, these two words are distinctly different, and have very different meanings. If kids aren’t able to sound out or tell the difference, the meaning of any sentence using either word would be confused. 

Word guessing

The Problem: Similar to whole word errors, word guessing is a common mistake kids make when they read just part of a word, and take a guess as to what they think it is. Like the above error, kids make word guessing errors when they fail to read a word phonetically. Sometimes kids recognize part of a word, and then substitute in their minds the word they’re more familiar with. For example, instead of reading the word “hound” correctly, a child might substitute the word “hundred” instead, simply because those words share several of the same letters. 


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How to Fix It: Just like with entire word errors, to correct word guessing mistakes, kids need to learn to read phonetically. If your child has a similar problem, it might be helpful to practice decoding words that look similar, but are different because of the sounds used in each word.  Free reading worksheets, and patience goes a long way in helping kids to learn to decode words. 

Tracking errors

The Problem: When we read a text, reading from left to right comes naturally to us after so many years of reading fluently. As adults, we barely think twice about the simple fact that this, too, is a skill kids need to learn and remember. Tracking errors are mistakes kids make when they begin to read phonetically. Even as kids begin decoding sounds in words, some kids fail to decode those sounds in a sequential manner. This results in mixing up the sounds in the word. 

How to Fix It: To help your child, practice reading with your child, sounding out words from left to right. While reading, use your finger to point out each sound, moving from left to right. 

Entire word errors

The Problem: Learning sight words is a great way for kids to quickly read and identify simple, high frequency words. However, not all words should be learned as sight words. As kids continue to build reading skills, they should be starting to sound out words instead of looking at them and trying to visually recognize words as entire units.

Whole word errors occur when kids try to read larger, or more complex words as they would sight words. Sometimes, when words look similar to the sight words they already know, they simply assume the word they’re looking at is that sight word when it’s not. This leads kids to misinterpret sentences. 

How to Fix It: To fix this problem, kids need to learn to use phonics to sound out words phonetically. With so many options for online and mobile learning, it’s easy to find the best iPad learn to read app by simply searching for phonics games and apps on the App Store. Phonics worksheets and workbooks can also help kids work with word sounds and blends. 


One of the best ways to sort out letter and sound confusion errors is to simply practice with your child and to have patience. Take note of the letter combinations that trouble your child, and practice writing and reading texts using words that include those letter combinations.

Even though reading seems to come so easy to us, we shouldn’t forget that for kids, it can be frustrating to learn so many rules and sounds as they begin their learning journey. With a little practice, and a lot of patience, your child will grow up to be a fluent and accomplished reader!

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