How to Help a Child Struggling with Reading
Learning to read is fundamental to a child’s education. Reading Head Start is a great platform that can help parents give their children the tools that they need to improve their reading skills. There are many other tips and techniques that parents can use at home to support their children who may be struggling with reading. The first step is to recognize that your child is struggling. After that, you can implement different processes to help your child. The tips below can be used for anybody at any skill level who is having difficulty with their literacy skills.
Celebrate Your Child’s Abilities
Although reading may be a challenge for your child right now, they still have many other talents and abilities. Perhaps your child is great at math, soccer or playing a musical instrument. Be sure to notice your kid’s unique talents and celebrate their skills in other areas, rather than only emphasizing their struggles with reading. Pay attention to what gets them excited and allow them to explore those different interests. Praise their skills in other areas instead of only criticizing what they struggle with. This will build confidence in their abilities.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Don’t overlook the seemingly small achievements in your child’s literacy progress, especially if you know that they struggle in that particular area. Something as simple as picking out a different type of book at the library or learning to recognize one new word is something that you can celebrate about your child. Let your son or daughter know how proud you are of them at every milestone, no matter how great or small it may be.
Don’t Push Too Hard or Too Soon
Familiarize yourself with the five different stages of reading development so that you can set realistic expectations for your child that have been backed up by experts about where your child’s literacy skills should really be. Parents often push their children to start learning to read too early, before their minds can even process the connection between written words and sounds.
While there are always things you can do to support your child’s learning at home, there is no need to pressure them to start trying to read too young. In fact, it can be very confusing for them and this can actually be detrimental to their education in the long run. If your child is behind with reading, don’t get frustrated when they aren’t meeting your expectations. It can hinder children’s development if they feel pressure from a disappointed adult.
Work With a Learning Disability
If your child has been diagnosed with a learning or reading disability, help them to do what it takes to overcome it and flourish in school. If your kid has a particular problem with spelling, for example, make sure they get the extra time they need on spelling tests at school, and at home teach them how to look up words in the dictionary.
You can encourage them to read books and look up any words they don’t understand and write short stories using those words. Talk to your child’s teacher and figure out ways to accommodate their needs so they can still be successful and continue to make progress.
Share Your Own Struggles
If your child becomes frustrated or sad about their struggles with reading, let them know that you understand. Tell them about something you had trouble with as a kid, or even as an adult. Children should learn that everything doesn’t come easy to everybody, but that each person has their own unique strengths as well as challenges. Share your challenges and celebrate your strengths together. This is not only beneficial to your child’s learning, but to your bond as well.
Read to Your Child
Reading aloud is one of the most fun and helpful ways to help your child improve their reading skills. Let them choose books that engage them, and read to them in silly voices to keep them entertained. Reading with your child also gives you the opportunity to explain new words or the meaning behind the story. It is important for your child to make these connections between comprehension and reading.
Remember, books are competing with a multitude of screens these days, so reading must be seen as fun rather than a chore to compete for your child’s attention. You can also use read-along sound recordings or videos that let your child listen while looking at the words being read.
Communicate With Your Child’s Teacher
Sometimes parents avoid having their children see them discuss progress with their teacher at school, thinking it could be harmful or embarrassing for the child. In most cases, kids feel supported when they see adults working together on their development.
Even if you don’t choose to have your child share in these discussions, it is important to talk to their teacher to make sure you are on the same page with what and how your child is learning. You don’t want your son or daughter to become even more confused by conflicting lessons and information between home and school.
Teach Children How to Help Themselves
Perhaps one of the best things you can do towards the education of any child, but especially one who struggles with reading is to empower them in their own learning. Show them how to use a library catalog, spell check software, dictionaries, and other tools to help themselves improve their reading skills. Not having to come to an adult every single time they have a question can boost your child’s confidence and ultimately makes them a better and more self-sufficient student.
These tips for helping a struggling reader can be applied to any child, regardless of their age or how their challenges manifest. Encourage your child while practicing at an appropriate level at home and in the real world. You can also check out Reading Head Start for more information on how to help a child struggling with reading.