Q: My fifth grader is doing poorly in his history class. His teacher says it's because he can't do the reading. But when I have him read his textbook, he has no difficulty at all. What do you think the problem might be?
A: There are many reasons why a child may have difficulties in a certain subject. In your child's case, his history teacher feels that the root problem has something to do with reading. Without knowing more about the situation, it's hard to say if the problem lies in the amount of reading, his interest in the material, the strategies he brings to history-text reading, or some other factor. You mention that when you have your child read his textbook to you, he has no apparent difficulty. If you mean that he's able to read it smoothly, without "stumbling," the problem might lie in comprehension. Sometimes students put so much cognitive energy into "sounding right" when they read that they are not actually attending to the meaning of the text. History textbooks contain features that can be challenging to children who are more familiar with narrative text: tables, graphs, headings, timelines, and so forth.