It's hard to admit that I don't always know what to do when it comes to my kids. It's frustrating. And humbling.

My daughter has been "stuck" with her reading for several months now. She began the school year as one of the top readers in her class. But while the rest of her classmates have made steady improvements, and have even passed her reading level, my sweet girl has barely shown any improvement in her reading ability.

For months I've watched her use all the right reading strategies. She makes predictions and uses visual cues in illustrations to help her create context for a difficult word. She reads with wonderful expression and always understands what she has read, stopping to laugh at the story's humor or to make a connection to something else the story is reminding her of. Overall, she is way advanced in the reading skills she knows and uses. And yet, when she picks up a book, she finds herself still needing to sound out sight words that in other context she knows. Recently, she spent almost five minutes trying to sound out the word "she". SHE?!? Really?

Last week I sat on the couch with her listening to her try to get through the book she brought home to read. The book was at a similar level from what she had at the beginning of the school year. What should have taken ten minutes to read ended up taking almost an hour. I watched her struggle through the simplest of words. I saw her grow more and more frustrated. I saw her eyes well up with tears.

I tried to pull out all my tricks as a parent. Stay calm. Stay encouraging. Coach her through the process but not do it for her. Definitely do not let her give up. Take a deep breath, you can do this. But it wasn't working.

So, I closed the book and tried to pull out all the things I know about reading from my years of teaching. Remind her of the reading rules she knows. Think of context. Did that make sense? Only sound out the letters you see. Where have you seen this word before? Let me model for you. Take a deep breath, you can do this. It still wasn't working.

So, I tried to pull out all the things I know about how kids think and learn. I tried to figure out what the brain block might be in her head. I asked her to explain to me what happens inside her when she sees these words. Do the words look different? Do the letters change before your eyes? What thoughts are you thinking? She doesn't know.

I am so frustrated. Isabella knows I am. Her eyes well up with tears and so do mine.

"Isabella, " I say as I pull her close to me. "I am not frustrated at you. You have done nothing wrong. I am so frustrated because I don't know how to help you. I know you are a good reader. I know you can do this. And I don't understand why you can't. And I'm frustrated for you because I know YOU know you can do this. But you're stuck. And I don't know why."

It was an awful awful feeling. I, Tara Wood, former elementary school teacher, masters in child development, and parenting educator, did not know what to do to help my child. It wasn't pride that made this frustrating. It was more a feeling of helplessness. That despite everything I've learned and everything I know, it wasn't enough. Then it hit me . I would never know everything I would possibly ever need to know to help my children in every possible scenario that will come up in their lifetime. And frankly, that realization sucks.

But I guess that's why we're not meant to raise our children alone, right? That's why they have teachers and friends and other individuals brought into their life that can fill in the gaps, because as parents we CAN'T do it all. We can't be everything to our children. And that's why we're meant to surround ourselves with a strong community. And that's why pride can be so damaging if we let it because not asking for help when we need it can be more damaging than the risk of letting others help. And that's why I'm a better mom for admitting I don't know all the answers instead of pretending that I do.

And so, I ask for help. Her wonderful teacher is working on some new ideas. Friends have talked to people they know who are "experts" in this kind of thing. Family have supported and encouraged me so that I can stay encouraging toward my daughter.

Already there have been suggestions made that have helped my daughter not get so stuck when she puts all those words she knows in the context of a story. I feel less frustrated and more optimistic, mostly because I'm not doing it alone.

And so ,we take a deep breath and we try again...because together we can do this.

What do you need to ask help with?

Author's Bio: 

Tara is a a well-respected and highly educated parenting educator and coach. Considered one of the top authorities on the subject in the Denver area, Tara works with families of all backgrounds and design and consults with families from all over the country. Tara is the co founder and executive director of Xylem Family Resource. Sh has worked with families since 1995 in various capacities including classroom teacher for preschoolers, 3rd graders and a 5th/6th grade SIED classroom. She's been a trainer and consultant in behavior management, anger and conflict managment skills, and parenting since 1997 and has worked with children from infancy through teen including youth at risk. Tara has her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Westmont College with an emphasis in Human Services (marriage and family) and a Masters in Child Development from Tufts University. She is also a certified eduator for the Gottman Institute and was trained in their Bringing Baby Home program.