Helping Kids Who Are Struggling with Reading

If you feel like you’ve tried so many different strategies to encourage a child who is struggling with reading, you’re not alone. In this post, writer Julia Robson shares practical ideas on helping kids who are struggling with reading. These strategies are especially helpful for parents, even if you aren’t fully homeschooling.

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Dyslexia and Other Reading Disorders

Author Disclaimer: This post is not about the ways to help kids who have dyslexia or any other learning disorder. This is a post about helping kids who may be a bit behind their class in reading and comprehension, kids who just don’t enjoy reading or whose current reading skills have given them a bit of a fear of reading. 

If you suspect your child may be suffering from dyslexia or any other learning disorder, please contact a professional in your area. 

Helping My Kids Become More Engaged with Reading

On a sunny day in April 2020, a Sunday, I walked into our living room to find both of my daughters glued to a screen. My younger child was watching a cartoon on TV, while her sister was watching another one on the family tablet. 

I’m not sure why this scene hit me so hard.

Perhaps I was starting to realize how much lockdown had changed our habits.

This led to me being worried about their future. And somehow that manifested itself in looking at technology as the enemy.

The truth was, the girls had stopped reading for fun, and they were only watching for fun. This had to change. Or otherwise, soon no book would be able to replace that screen. 

If your kids are struggling with their reading too, here are some tips that might help you help them fall (back) in love with reading.

Get Kids the Reading Help That They Need

First of all, you might want to consider asking for help, if you find you are out of your comfort zone. 

As parents, we often expect ourselves to be able to handle anything and everything that arises in our childrens’ lives, but that is simply not possible.

We are not professionals when it comes to teaching. When our child is struggling with a school subject, the best course of action is to enlist the help of their teachers

They will be able to let you know things like:

  • which books to take out
  • how to practice reading with your child
  • plus how to encourage them when they falter over the more difficult parts.

Everything you do on top of that will be incredibly helpful.

However, make sure you are playing on the same team as your child’s educator. So, talk to him or her and get some valuable advice. 

Let Kids Choose Their Own Books

Another great way to help your kids fall more in love with reading is to let them choose the books they enjoy.

There is a bit of an issue that arises with young learners: the books they want to be reading are complex in the language and spelling sense, and the books they should be able to read easily are no longer interesting to them. 

There are however more books that are overcoming this issue to an extent, so ask your local librarian for a recommendation. Of course, you can also ask the internet. 

Let your kids choose from an age-appropriate section

Additionally, if you find they are struggling, help them out by alternating pages with them. You can read two or three pages for their one, so they can remain immersed in the story, and want to read their part too. 

Read Together

Speaking of reading with your kids, try to read together even when they don’t take on any of the reading themselves. Don’t just read for school, or as a part of the extra work your child may be required to do to improve their reading skills. 

Read together in the evenings before bed, over the weekend, read for pleasure and in your leisure time. 

You can save specific books for these sessions, and see them as a kind of treat. Try to always stop on a cliffhanger, so your child is eager to keep reading and learn what happens next.

Adventure books are great for this purpose, as are series of novels, books based on cartoons, and vice versa. You can of course also read non-fiction with your kids, especially about the things that interest them, be they dinosaurs, birds or the Moon. 

Change the Reading Format to Keep Things Interesting

Another good way to improve your child’s reading skills is to change the format they are consuming. 

Consider listening to audiobooks. You can do this separately from the actual book, or you can play the audiobook. Then you can follow along in a physical copy as you listen.

This will help them associate words with sounds better, and they will be able to improve faster. 

You can also look into reading comic books, which are much easier to follow.

Comics also tend to come with a story for every age. There are great ones online if you don’t want to keep buying new editions, or you can start a collection they will look back on fondly one day.

Finally, there are reading comprehension sheets and games you can play together that will ask them to solve puzzles and complete all kinds of tasks. Your teacher may recommend some too, but you can find plenty of them online for free. Just print them out, and start playing. 

Limit Their Screen Time 

Finally, returning to my introductory point, limit the time your kids spend in front of a screen. You don’t necessarily have to exchange screen time for reading time, but try to engage your kids in activities that don’t require them to stare at the same thing for hours. Or even half an hour.

While digital literacy is of course a much-needed skill, kids still need these skills to:

  • develop their motor skills
  • improve their athleticism
  • strengthen necessary reading skills
  • socialize effectively with others

However, in order to do these things, they need the headspace that is currently being taken up by the screen.

Consider screen time as a reward!

More Ways to Help Kids Who Are Struggling with Reading

These additional posts offer more practical strategies for teachers and homeschooling parents for helping kids with reading:

I do hope some of these tips will help you and your kids find more time for reading, and that their struggles will soon be replaced by the sheer joy that reading can bring about. After all, books are nothing but windows into other worlds, and the sooner they get to know them, the more joyous their life will be.

AUTHOR BIO: Julia is the mother of two girls and an aspiring writer getting ready to launch her own blog. She loves to read herself, and will forever be a fan of Harry Potter. Her girls, tragically, don’t actually like Harry that much, but they are great fans of Neil Gaiman and Matt Haig. 

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