In light of the recent National Read Across America Day, we want to give some attention back to the kids who might have felt left out – the struggling readers. It can be incredibly frustrating for a child to be a struggling reader. Parents of struggling readers must also deal with the unsung responsibility of having to find alternative means of education to ensure their children stay on top. In addition, many children and parents alike may grapple with feelings of insecurity towards their general capabilities due to the challenges they face when reading.
You can rest reassured – scientists say there is no direct link between poor reading skills and general abilities, so there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. Fortunately, helping your child overcome their difficulty with reading may not be as challenging as you think. Health experts say there are at least five effective ways you can help your kid overcome these challenges and reach their full potential.
1. Identify your kid’s strengths
Do your kids like to draw more than to write actual words? Do they gravitate towards certain sounds or are they captivated by music? Try to notice what they attend to and use their preferences to develop an effective learning strategy.
As parents, we often focus too much on our children’s weaknesses but not on their strengths. Sometimes, teachers are guilty of this as well. Use your child’s artistic skills to draw or enact a story instead of focusing on poor writing or spelling. You can help them by drawing the main characters of the story or by reading aloud, or playing audiobooks.
Recent research conducted by Janenne Eustic at William Paterson University found that when a child was self-selecting texts and reading silently, instead of oral guided reading by a teacher, they demonstrated higher fluency rates, improved reading comprehension, and were motivated to read more. The belief that a “one-size-fits-all” strategy when approaching education simply does not work all the time.
2. Short and frequent lessons
Children naturally have a shorter attention span as the world enamors them with different colors and sights. Break down study plans into smaller goals. Start with the alphabet and letter sounds. Give them time and follow up with short CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words such as hit or bit. You can help them blend sound together such as /l/ /o/ /g/ for log.
Plan for a lesson lasting 10-20 minutes per day for four to five days a week. With time, you can increase the length of the lesson time depending on how your kid responds.
3. Involve multiple senses
A multisensory approach uses sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell to learn new words and ideas. When kids are taught using these multiple pathways, their learning is improved, and they enjoy it more. For example, showing visual representation of broken-down sounds (phonograms) can help some kids better understand how to read and write as it engages visual, auditory, and kinesthetic pathways.
Read aloud to your child every day or allow them to listen to audiobooks to keep on track with the books their peers are reading. Reading also ensures that you can offer explanations and point out additional details of the story.
Jooki’s TouchToy™ technology works similarly by helping kids learn their favorite songs and stories to play through figurines and tokens.
4. Set realistic targets
Being honest with yourself and setting realistic targets is vital. Don’t let the first few barriers and failures take away your motivation. Identify your child’s current stage and provide a realistic target for a near-future goal.
Involve your kid in setting realistic targets so that your child will take equal ownership of the goal. For example, you can ask your child to read a certain number of lines, then paragraphs a day or a certain number of books a month. Ignore failure and celebrate success with your kids that they are progressing well.
Also, when appropriate, share your difficulties with them, as it helps them understand that even you are struggling and have weaknesses but are constantly working on them.
5. The power of encouragement
Research conducted by Cambridge University shows that encouragement from parents and teachers has the highest impact on children’s learning and career advancement. Give a high five or mention “good job” at every little milestone of success. Every single time!
It is essential to teach your child how to help themselves, encourage them to understand their strengths and weaknesses, and stand up for themselves. Instilling confidence that they are as good as anyone else will help them build self-esteem and ensure a cycle of success.
Encouragement sparks interest and creativity. Children naturally look to their parents for permission and approval. They look up to you to judge their success. Be liberal with your compliments!
Everyone is different
Do remember that every learner is different and needs a unique kind of learning support. Conditions such as dyslexia are common, and many other conditions – including ADHD or physical conditions – can also impair a child’s ability to read. Encouragement above all else may be the most important factor in giving your child the drive they need to overcome their challenges. By tailoring a learning strategy that caters to your kid’s needs, you will see marked improvements in their reading ability in no time.