“How do I help my child who is struggling with reading”? That’s one of the most frequently asked questions by parents on our blog. After undergoing some research about this subject, today, I’ll be giving some tips to parents on how to improve the reading skills of a child with reading difficulty.
Reading is an incredibly important skill for every child. Reading helps fast-track the knowledge of other subjects is it Mathematics, English, or even Social Studies. Little wonder parents are concerned when their kids struggle with reading.
The task of improving your child’s reading level is not exclusive to their teachers. Unknown to many parents, they have more role to play in helping a child with reading difficulties than the school teacher who only spends a few hours of the day with them.
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Below are some practical, proven, and tested strategies to improve reading skills for your child.
How to help your child’s reading fluency and comprehension level
There are a lot of activities you as a parent can start with your kids at home that would help them read more fluently at their age-grade level. One of them is reading aloud with your child.
Find time to read with your child once or three times a week. Find a nice spot in the house where you both can read and have fun. Take turns reading chapters from a book that interests them, a method similar to how pupils take turns to read in the classroom.
As simple as reading with kids may sound, it requires sacrifice on your path to creating that time. But these reading times provide a good avenue for parent and child bonding time – which is much needed to foster love in the family.
- Get books for your kids
Children have to see reading as part of the family culture and books as an important item in the house just as food is. So, if you want your child to love reading and become more fluent readers, you have to make books available in the house.
Get various age-appropriate books that would interest your kids, especially when they are in the 3rd grade and below and cannot choose books all by themselves.
You may also want to reward your kids with beautiful books that they would love when they behave impressively well, instead of toys other mundane items.
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- Explore varied reading materials
Reading for kids should not be restricted to their school books or recommended texts. Help your reluctant reader to find books they love and open your kid’s interest up with different book genres.
There is a handful lost of genres that could interest your kids, so why limit them to one or two?
Some of the genres you may want to explore for preschoolers include picture storybooks, folktales, and fables, participation books, poetry, nursery rhymes, informational books, counting books, etc.
If your child is in 3rd grade onward, they may be interested in genres like traditional literature, historic fiction, science fiction, fact-based books, fascinating biographies, autobiographies, etc.
Comic books and magazines are also not out of place, they can provide a good reading experience as long as they are age-appropriate.
When there are a variety of books to choose from, your kids are more motivated to read, widen their vocabulary, and in turn, their reading skills will drastically improve.
- Age-appropriate reading
Parents can also help improve their children’s reading level by getting books that match their levels. Many kids’ books list their reading levels on the back or spine.
You could also have kids use their five fingers while reading a paragraph and take each finger down once they find any word that is too difficult for them. If they have all the five fingers down, then the book is too hard.
They should recognize at least 90 percent of the words without any help. If they stop more often than that to figure out a word, it becomes difficult for them to focus on the overall meaning of the story.
- Empower kids to choose
Another powerful strategy that could improve your child’s reading skills is to make them feel part of the process by choosing books they love to read by themselves.
Take kids along with you to the book stores and be kind enough to give them the liberty to choose books that catch their fancy. When they pick books they love, they are more likely to want to read these books, thereby improving their reading comprehension skills.
You not only empower kids by making them choose books they would love to read; you also make them learn how to take responsibility which is very vital to their success as young adults.
- Read through activities
Another practice that would help boost your child’s reading ability is to encourage them to read outside the normal reading hours at home.
When trying new recipes, if your child loves to join in cooking, make him or her read the steps of making the recipe and explain to you after reading it.
Also encourage your child to read road signs, weather reports, store hours of operation, or emails from other family members.
Always be on the lookout for these types of less formal reading avenues, they would greatly help a child who is struggling in reading.
- Give contexts
When you are reading together with your child, it may sometimes require that you give some contexts to the plot. For example, if they are reading a book about the Biafran War, give them a brief background on the subject.
This not only opens up their minds to what to expect, but it also helps them to better understand what they are ready for and makes reading more fun and exciting.
- Make books handy for kids
Help your kids to always have at least a book handy at any time they may have a little time in their hands such as when they are on a journey, when they are on the bed, on a car ride, or anywhere else that they can carve out a little extra time to read.
Even if they read just 30 minutes daily, that’s 10,800 minutes per school. Imagine the number of vocabularies that number of reading time would expose a child to.
- Aks questions
After each reading task, ask your child to tell you about what they have read. Ask them simple questions about the characters, the plot of the story, or other important points from their reading.
This may also take the form of a conversation where you and your child discuss the book, each taking different aspects. This would allow you see how well they are able to comprehend the passages.
- Lead by example
Children learn more from your actions than what you tell them to do. So, if you want your child to develop a reading habit and improve their reading levels, show them how to read by being a reader yourself.
Let your child see that you love books and enjoy reading and they would also want to be like you.
- Every child is different
Remember that every child is different, so don’t expect your children’s reading ability to develop at the same pace. Resist the urge to compare your children.
Follow the steps above and be patient with your struggling child giving them enough time to brush up their reading comprehension.