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How To Help A Child Struggling With Reading
Having a child who is a reluctant reader can be frustrating for both parent and the child in question. So how do you encourage them without pushing in a way that takes the pressure off? Here’s how to help a child struggling with reading.
First, consider if your child is really ready. Some children are developmentally ready to read at 3 or 4; others need a lot more time and may not be ready until they are 8 or even older.
Everyone learns at their own pace, and pressuring a student who may need you to step back for 6 months or a year because you’re stressing over it is going to harm your relationship much more than giving them the space they need for a while longer.
Another thing to consider is whether their eyesight might be causing the difficulty. If you haven’t had their vision checked in 6 months or more, make a point to get this taken care of. Because they may be genuinely not seeing the words or small print.
If this reluctant reader is 7 or older, think about having them tested for dyslexia and other learning challenges that may be interfering with their ability to read. Sometimes this can make a huge difference because you know what challenges you’re working with.
If you’ve ruled out the potential problems above, here’s how to help a child struggling with reading:
Read aloud to your child.
Even if they are able to read to themselves, the time spent curled up together is a great bonding experience, and your reader will see how you handle intonation, punctuation, and words that they see over your shoulder might just be ones that they feel confident tackling by themselves later.
And remember, a listener of a story absorbs a huge amount of reading information even when they aren’t the ones doing it.
Let them read on a lower level.
Sometimes the reading material is genuinely too difficult for them. Let them read books for younger readers that’s on their “appropriate” level and build confidence. There’s nothing wrong with it, honestly!
Let them read books they enjoy.
If you are not a fan of “twaddle” (books that most of us would consider a bit silly or a waste of time) sometimes one of these books can open the door for your child to feel confident in reading. Allow them to choose a book about Minecraft, Pokemon tricks and tips, or whatever their current passion is. Then listen without rolling your eyes when they share their enthusiasm. It can work wonders, so in our book it’s worth it.
Let them read to a younger child, a grandparent, or anyone else who will listen with enjoyment.
It’s a great confidence boost.
You read a page, they read a page.
Pick a story you’ll both enjoy and take turns. When it’s their turn, if they are fighting a word, calmly provide it. In most books it will be repeated and they’ll more than likely remember it by at least the third repetition. The trick here is to be very matter of fact and resist the urge to throw in a reminder of reading rules.
When you start feeling tense or frustrated it communicates itself to them, so if a page each or a paragraph each is all you can manage at first without wanting to shriek like a banshee, then that’s all you read that day. Stop while you’re both still fresh.
If your child gets frustrated easily, take breaks when needed. Get some fresh air or better yet, take the reading outside on a blanket. Sometimes changing the atmosphere can help too.
Sneak in some reading.
Ask them casually if they can see a particular item on the grocery store shelf because you’re not spotting it. Reading labels is great practice. Ditto street signs, road maps, or product descriptions.
Kids who balk at reading a book may be happy to read the same material on your smartphone or an e-reader.
The best way to encourage a reluctant reader is to be a role model for it.
Curl up with a good book and let them see you do it. Snuggle side by side under a blanket and read your books next to each other on a cold day. Visit the library often and you choose books for yourself too.
Finally, another way to excite and encourage a reluctant reader is gifts.
Not just any gift of course. But gifts that can help give that little nudge, create interest, or excite them enough to want to pursue learning to read.
Here are some of our favorite gifts to encourage reluctant readers: