How To Help Struggling Readers
Some kids are born bookworms but other kids struggle with reading. Don't fret, it's perfectly normal! Reading is a wonderful way for your child to expand their imagination and vocabulary and also eventually provide them a means for independent quiet time. It's key to make reading fun, not a dreaded chore. If your child is struggling with reading, working with their teacher is important, as is reinforcement at home. Here are 10 ways to help struggling readers; these strategies have worked well with my kids!
1. Read every day
Make reading a daily family commitment. Turn off the TV and perhaps allocate a window before bedtime each night as cozy reading time.
2. Help choose (at first)
Help your kids select books (e.g., featuring characters and topics they enjoy) and make sure the books are grade level appropriate so as not to frustrate them yet still provide a bit of a challenge. Eventually, they'll develop a sense for what kind of books they can handle (e.g., based on pictures/no pictures, size of text, etc.).
3. Read with them. And get into character!
Reading to/with your child will help them a lot. Ask simple questions about the stories to help build on comprehension. Also, use silly voices, and get animated! It will help your child get into the spirit of the book.
4. Encourage independence
Get your child their own library card. Having their own card makes them feel like a grown up! Visit your library regularly to check out books and participate in enrichment activities such as story time.
5. Make books easily accessible
I keep books by the bedside for my kids if they wake up earlier than usual. Or keep a small basket of assorted reading material in a playroom or family room.
6. Make books a treat
To entice a reluctant reader wrap some books in gift wrap or kraft paper (or the comics section of the newspaper). Have them choose a wrapped book to read to you. Create a book wishlist for birthdays and holiday gift giving with your child. I've also found that my kids enjoy stickers as a reward for reading time.
7. Look beyond books
Don't forget about kid friendly magazines and comics as another source of reading material.
8. Play games
Play rhyming games with word families (e.g., hat and cat), which teaches phonemic awareness. Create your own sight word bingo game (ask your child's teacher for help with a list of sight words or reference the Dolch word list). My kids have also enjoyed the reading games at Starfall.
9. Be a role model
Children model what they see parents/caregivers do so make reading a part of your life as well. (If you need inspiration, here's a crazy amazing reading list for you!)
10. Stay calm
If your child is struggling a lot with reading, frustration (for you and your child) is inevitable and will probably elevate anxiety. Try to stay calm. Take a break and come back to the reading when the emotions have died down. Remember that reading together can be a fun way to spend time together and that they will get it eventually; that kids develop strengths in different areas at different times.