How to Help Your Struggling Reader
Jan 2, 2010 Reading 2504 Views
If you have a child in your home who is struggling with learning to read, you need to take steps to help him overcome his difficulties. Reading difficulties that go unnoticed or are overlooked end up creating big problems for children later in their education. These children may be incredibly bright, but because they cannot read well, they cannot succeed in school. As a parent, it is your job to make sure that your struggling reader gets the help he needs. You cannot rely on the school to make sure this happens.
Step 1 - Identify the Problem
The first thing you need to do to help your child learn to read is to determine why she is struggling. There are four main reasons that a child could be struggling with reading. The first is because of poor role models in reading and lack of early learning activities. As an involved parent, you likely have been providing your child with reading activities, so this may or may not be the problem. If you feel that you have not been modeling good reading to your child, be sure to start doing so. You will be teaching reading skills simply by providing a good example.
Another reason that children struggle with learning how to read is because they did not accurately acquire reading skills in early grades. Perhaps there was no phonics in their early reading instruction, or perhaps they simply did not catch on to some essential skill in Kindergarten. This is fairly easy to fix with remedial instruction.
Children may struggle with reading because of visual or auditory problems. Children who cannot see or hear well will have a difficult time learning to write and read. To determine if this is the case, have your child's hearing and vision evaluated by your pediatrician.
Learning disabilities are the last reason a child may be struggling with learning to read. If you have ruled out any other problems, it is time to have your child evaluated for a potential reading disability. Many parents fear having their child labeled with a disability, but the fact is that it is far better for the child to get the help he needs than to continue to struggle. Most learning disabilities can be overcome with proper instruction.
Step 2 - Step in to Help
If your child has a physical problem that is disrupting his ability to read, or if you are providing a poor role model at home, you need to take steps to correct this. However, if the problem is a lack of early learning activities or a reading disability, you need to use specific tools to help your child catch up with his classmates.
Phonics is the key to successfully helping a struggling reader. Many struggling readers were not taught phonics skills in their early reading education. They were, instead, taught to read sight words. This requires them to memorize every word they see, a task which many children cannot accomplish very easily. To these children learning becomes an impossible task, and they stop trying.
Phonics, on the other hand, gives these struggling readers the tools necessary to decipher words, even if they have not previously seen and memorized those words. Once they have mastered basic sounds, children should also be taught reading and listening comprehension skills. With these tools, they will be able to overcome their reading difficulties.
The computer can be a helpful tool when working with a struggling reader. Chances are your child already spends plenty of time playing video games on the computer or TV. Use that time to reinforce the phonics skills you are teaching using programs like Child Font. A phonics-based program that provides a fun, interactive learning environment is the perfect way to supplement what your child is learning in school and provide the needed support to your struggling reader!