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How to Help Your Struggling Reader at Home

Updated: May 7, 2022

Learning to read is hard, but continuing to love to read? That can be even more difficult. As kids begin to read everything is exciting, new and fun. But what happens when the fun is gone?

Usually at some point between first and third grade kids stop reading for fun. Why? For many, the reason is reading becomes "work" and screen time is "play". Sometimes kids struggle with reading and don’t even understand why. What make a kid a struggling reader?

Usually it is due to a lack of the basic foundations of phonics, which could make them feel inadequate in school around peers who read "better" than they do. Many struggling readers are left with feelings of shame, self-conscious doubt, and embarrassment when reading out loud at school.

What do we do now as parents so our kids don’t quit?

The First Thing to Do At Home For Struggling Readers

Love them. Let your struggling reader know that they can and will learn to read just like everyone else.

Many people struggle with reading as kids, and later grow up to be very successful adults. Sometimes talking to your kids about others in history or today who have struggled with reading, can boost your kids confidence.

Reading should also become a 'no judgement' zone at home. It shouldn't matter what level they read at. Reading for fun should be just that- FUN.

Add More Writing at Home to Support the Reading in School

There’s no doubt that the more you read the better of a reader you will become. It’s also true that the more you write the better of a writer you will become. Also, the more you write the better you read, and vice versa the more you read the better writer you are. Because these skills are working together, having kids write more at home can boost reading skills at school. The best part is, they don't even know they are working on "reading" skills!

Encourage writing in a diary or journal. Kids will automatically increase their own reading skills simply by writing.

If your kid doesn't like to write about their day, allow them to write their own stories. Get creative and have everyone in the family write a story to share.

Let Struggling Readers Read to You

Have your child read to you! This may sound obvious, however giving your kid a book to read at home that is one or two levels below what they should be reading at school will actually encourage them to read more. It builds their confidence and essentially improves their skills. Reading comprehension and reading fluency are two very different things. Reading fluency is how well your kids can read words in a sentence, even if they are not completely sure what the sentence is about.

For a struggling reader, the ability to read an easy book without mess-ups can boost confidence. If you strengthen reading fluency at home, their comprehension skills will eventually increase.

Building Confidence for Struggling Readers

Reading "easy" books at home does more than supports reading fluency- it builds confidence. This is very important in engaging struggling readers to enjoy reading again. Let you child read a book they know to the family. Reward them with applause! Their confidence will grow and so will their reading skills.

The Reward System

Some kids might need a little more than applause to read. Another option for building confidence in a struggling reader is starting small. Allow them to simply read one or two pages from a beginning readers book. Then give them a sticker for each page they read. By the end of a week they have read the whole book, one page at a time.

Struggling readers are in every age group! Find the book that will help your child learn to love reading again. Maybe they are working hard to read a chapter book; maybe they are working hard to read a sentence. Either way the process is the same.

For a little more encouragement for older kids, give them a reward after earning a certain number of stickers.

Make Videos

All kids want to be the new Ryan’s World, so why not give them the chance to try. Ask your child to write down lines for characters to say in the movie then have them narrate the video as you film it. Always make it fun. This not only builds confidence and makes reading and writing fun, but it builds positive memories with you. After you have filmed the video, you can allow them to add captions and special effect, further practicing their reading and writing skills.

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