How to Help a Child Struggling with Reading

Reading literacy is a crucial building block of the academic success of students of all grade levels. This is because having strong roots in reading comprehension strengthens students’ focus and concentration while providing them with the tools they need to solve problems in their minds. 

When a child struggles with reading, it affects more than just their English scores. Poor reading comprehension can detrimentally affect test scores and grades across the board since kids need to be able to read textbooks and comprehend assignments to be successful.

There is no need to fret if you have a child who struggles with reading; there are many things you can do to help him or her. 

Read a Story Aloud

Reading aloud to your child is one of the easiest ways you can foster reading comprehension. This is because reading aloud to kids helps them to expand their vocabulary, understand how to pronounce tricky words, and learn how to pick up on context clues. 

Taking time out of your day to dedicate to reading to your child also shows that you are committed to helping him succeed. Children who have supportive role models in their life are likely to feel more motivated to perform well in school, which translates to higher test scores and grades across the board. 

If you’re wondering how to choose a book to read, there is no “right” answer. Some of the most effective ways you can approach this include:

  • Including your child in choosing a genre
  • Choosing a book that focuses on a subject your child is weak in
  • Encouraging your child to choose their book

Encourage Kids to Write

Reading more frequently might be an obvious way to strengthen a child’s reading skills, but did you know writing is another great way to help a struggling reader? When children write, they must understand sentence structure, syntax, paragraph structure, and vocabulary. Teaching literacy requires students to read and write simultaneously, which positively impacts their reading comprehension skills.

When encouraging kids to write, you don’t need to assign a long-form essay or write a short story. In fact, in the early stages of this approach, it’s better to start small. Try writing quick notes back and forth with the child before working up to more extended assignments. This will allow the student to build his confidence and motivation before jumping into more complicated projects.

Offer Access to a Dictionary

Many students who struggle with reading comprehension also struggle with vocabulary and pronunciation. If your child struggles with reading due to not understanding how to use or pronounce words, it’s a good idea to keep a dictionary nearby. This allows the student to independently get the information they need to understand what they are reading, which helps him or her to be more independent and confident in the long run.

Help Kids Find Interesting Books

Arguably, there’s nothing worse to a struggling reading student than a boring book. In addition to struggling to understand the material, he now has to struggle to keep his eyes open while he reads it. There’s no doubt about it – research shows that students pay closer attention and retain more information when learning about something they are interested in. 

When it comes to reading comprehension, kids will consequently be more apt to overcome their weaknesses when the books they choose to align with their interests. Unfortunately, students who are not strong readers do not often take an interest in reading books frequently – that’s where you come in.

Talk to your student about their interests. What types of TV shows do they watch? What are some of their favorite hobbies? Then, use this information and the help from your school librarian to help your child locate a book that aligns with their interests.

Use Flashcards

If your struggling reader has trouble pronouncing or understanding keywords in bodies of texts, flashcards can be an excellent resource. Young readers who need help understanding sight words can also benefit from using this approach. 

Here are a couple of ways you can approach this strategy, depending upon your student’s age.

Kids from kindergarten to third grade can benefit from using flashcards to memorize sight words. These simple words, like run and jump, represent the part of a child’s vocabulary that should be automatically understood without the need to sound it out or look it up in a dictionary. Flashcards offer a simple and straightforward way to help struggling children get extra practice while still being productive with their time and having structure. 

Older kids can use flashcards, as well. Even once they have memorized and mastered sight words, flashcards can be utilized to remember more complicated, commonly used words. They can also help students to learn how to identify different parts of a sentence, punctuation, figures of speech, and more. The opportunities that flashcards offer to older student audiences are truly endless, as long as you’re willing to be patient and get creative. 

Play Word Games 

A large part of the battle when it comes to conquering reading struggles is getting kids interested and engaged in the learning they are doing. Since games are a fun way for students to decompress and enjoy themselves, word games are a fantastic option.

One popular way to utilize word games for reading practice is by using technology. There are many low-cost and even free word game options out there that can make a significant impact on your child. These games are also often tailored to each student’s age and reading level, making it easy to match kids up with the appropriate word game for them.

Although utilizing technology is a great way to get extra practice, it is not the only way. You can also play verbal word games with your child that allows you to get the vital training he or she needs from wherever you are. These can be rhyming games or spelling games, depending on where your child struggles the most.

Utilize Technology Resources

In addition to playing games online, there are a host of other technology resources that you can use to help our struggling reader. Consider watching educational reading videos online, downloading reading and spelling apps on your smartphone or device, and having e-books handy for reading practice on the fly. Technology can also be used to encourage your child to keep a virtual diary, write short blogs, or surf kid-friendly news websites that help make reading more fun.

Consider Books on Tape

A straightforward way to help a child who needs extra support in reading is to read to them. However, some families might find it difficult to carve time out of their schedule every day. An excellent solution to this problem comes in the form of books on tape. 

Books on tape are an excellent resource for reading practice for several different reasons. Voice actors can change their tone based on the speaker and the mood of the book. This can make things more interesting for young readers since the reading can sound more animated and enticing as a result. Books on tape are also ideal for car rides, doctor’s office waiting rooms, restaurants, and anywhere else kids might need an activity to keep their brains busy while they wait.

Remain Positive

Helping a struggling reader can be frustrating and downright tricky at times. The most important thing to remember when doing this is to stay positive. It’s vital to keep in mind that your child can sense when you are stressed or feeling anxious, so allowing your emotions to get in the way is counterproductive in the long run. Do your best to remain patient and positive, always maintaining an encouraging and supportive attitude for the best results.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help 

If you have exhausted all the resources you can think of to help your child and are still struggling, it might be time to enlist professional help. Some students need assistance from trained therapists who specialize in helping kids with reading disabilities. There is also a possibility that your child’s reading struggles could be stemming from an underlying health condition. 

There is no shame in reaching out for help if you need it. Talk to your child’s pediatrician to determine the next steps you should take if you suspect an underlying issue might be contributing to your child needing help with reading.

Helping Kids Overcome Reading Struggles

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to supporting a struggling reader. Even some of the most effective methods don’t work for everyone since each reader learns at their own pace. Consequently, it’s essential to have a variety of approaches in your toolbelt that you can utilize when supporting a student who finds it difficult to read. Using a combination of the above methods, you should be able to successfully help children overcome their reading problems once and for all.

About Jessica Phillips

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