For the struggling reader, reading is more of a chore than a joy. While many people have happy memories of learning to read, surrounded by friends and family, not everyone clips through it so easily.
In fact, roughly 40% of kids struggle to learn to read! Fortunately, early help and lots of attention are typically enough to bring these struggling readers through to the other side.
Why Do Some Kids Have a Hard Time Reading?
The first step to helping children to read is understanding why it’s so difficult for many of them. The answers are as diverse as kids themselves. While some children have a learning disability that makes reading difficult, others started school without the strong literacy background or literacy experiences they needed to succeed.
Still other kids have received poor or minimal reading instruction or are suffering from speaking or hearing disorders that make mastering phonics difficult.
The good news is that, the sooner these challenges are noticed and addressed, the more likely it is that the reader will bounce back without any long-term consequences.
Helping Struggling Children Learn to Read: What You Can Do
While the exact approach to helping children to read will depend on the child’s specific difficulties, the following tips are ideal for supporting all struggling readers. Be sure to consult with the child’s teacher or doctor, if needed, for more specific instruction.
1. Praise the Child’s Successes
For struggling readers, getting through a simple book can feel like a herculean task. This is why it’s so critically important for parents and other adults to notice the child’s successes, no matter how small, and praise them accordingly. When parents, teachers, and other adults praise kids for their strengths and growth, it will boost the child’s confidence and make it easier for him or her to overcome their reading-related hurdles.
For best results, offer the child a small reward for every new step in reading. A simple thing, like a high-five, or a more elaborate reward, like a special trip to the ice-cream shop, are both great places to start.
2. Set Realistic Goals
While it’s easy to get frustrated with struggling readers, especially for adults who did not struggle to learn to read when they were children, setting realistic goals is critical. For some children, reading on-level is a distant possibility at this point in their life, and shoving them toward it will do nothing but frustrated the child and destroy progress and mobility. With this in mind, adults working with struggling readers need to be conscious of the goals they’re setting, and ensure that they’re realistic for the child. Any goal set for a struggling reader should be made in concert with his or her teachers or tutors, and with a full understanding of the reader’s difficulties, progress, and outlook.
The more realistic the goals are for a young reader, the more likely it is that they will reach them. This, in turn, contributes to better reading experiences and a more positive attitude about reading as a whole.
3. Be Honest About Your Own Difficulties
Kids often feel embarrassed about their struggle to read. When adults share stories of their own difficulties with them, it can help the child normalize the process, and understand that they’re not alone within it. Even if an adult doesn’t have a story of struggling to read, specifically, sharing stories of struggling to learn anything can help children build up their self-esteem and understand that everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and that’s what makes people unique!
4. Read Aloud to Kids
Just because a child struggles to read on their own doesn’t mean that being read to won’t be enjoyable. While parents tend to shy away from reading if they feel their child is struggling with it, taking some of the pressure off helping children to read and simply reading to them, instead, can be a great way to ground reading and make it enjoyable again. For best results, choose a book the child likes and read during quiet times, like just before the child goes to bed.
5. Take Baby Steps
The worst thing for a struggling reader is to be forced faster than he or she is ready to go. When it comes to kids having a difficult time learning to read, baby steps are just fine, and can enhance the child’s confidence while also helping the child learn to read at his or her own pace.
Helping Children to Read, Regardless of Their Struggles
Reading doesn’t come easily for all kids, and struggling readers need a bit of extra attention and support. With these five tips, parents, teachers, and other caretakers can support struggling readers and help them see reading as something fun and enjoyable, rather than scary and hard.
For more reading help for your child, contact us, where you can find a high-quality reading tutor to work one-on-one with your child!