So many of the kids that I see are given work on a daily basis that they can’t handle. No amount of trying harder or paying attention better will matter. When it comes to reading one of the best ways to test out whether a child is in over his head, is simply to listen to the child read. For me, listening to a child read a passage out loud is a type of x-ray.

Every once in a while, to determine whether the work your child is getting is too difficult, ask him to read a paragraph or two from the text, story or worksheet they are being asked to manage independently.
How does the reading sound? Is it relatively smooth or is it strained and labored? Were most of the words read fairly effortlessly or were there nonsensical substitution words (e.g., “pricopinny” for porcupine). If there are more than a few of these words substituted in a paragraph, the material is simply too hard. No medication or increased motivation will overcome these weaknesses. 
If the work is too difficult, let your child’s teacher know that your child cannot do the work he is being asked to manage.
Please feel free to copy this note for the teacher and put in your own specifics:
Dear Mrs. __________:
Last night (James) attempted to do his reading. Pretty quickly it became apparent that he was getting frustrated. I asked him to read a part of the story to me, and it was clear that the material was well above his level.
I would appreciate it if you could take him off to the side of the room apart from the other children to listen to his reading the story to you. I presume you will see what I mean. The work is simply too hard for him – he can’t read the story.
Please advise.   Thank you for your concern.
Approach the problem positively with the teacher (at least initially). The old expression, “You get more flies with honey, than vinegar.” applies.
(**In future posts we will talk about a few specific strategies that can be very helpful.)