How to help a struggling reader

We have already discussed in a previous blog how to encourage a reluctant reader: a child who complains that reading is ‘boring’ or ‘a chore’. But what about struggling readers?

A struggling reader is a child who finds learning to read difficult. This might be due to a history of reading difficulties in the family or hearing loss, to name a few. If your child is a struggling reader, it’s important to know that there is plenty that you can do to help! Here are our five top tips.

Create a sense of calm

If your child’s reading ability is worrying you, try not to let them sense it. Provide them with plenty of encouragement as they read.

For example, if they are finding a word difficult, calmly tell them what it is, praise them for having a go and then say it together a few times to help them remember it.

Additionally, make time for reading. Removing time limits can create a relaxing environment for your child. Why not create a cosy reading nook too? This can remove distractions and help your child to focus.

Read to them

Interestingly, struggling readers are usually reluctant readers too. They tend to avoid reading because they find it difficult. Reading to your child or taking turns to read can help them to still see books as something they enjoy. If they are reading, it’s tricky to enjoy it if they find it difficult!

We can also learn lots of new information and vocabulary from books. Reading to a struggling reader will ensure that they still gain all the additional benefits from reading that their peers gain.

Little and often

Little and often is something we strongly believe in at DoodleEnglish. It is important that struggling readers have daily reading practice. The more opportunities they have to read, the better they will become and the more confident they will feel as a result.

Even by reading the same book several times, children can improve their fluency and reading becomes easier every time. This is a great motivator for them!

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Explore ‘high-low’ books

Being a struggling reader is not uncommon. There are now plenty of publishers (such as Barrington Stoke) releasing ‘high-low’ books. This means the content of the books are appropriate to the age of the child, but the text is suitable for a child with a lower reading age. These books include special features to cater for struggling readers.

Here are a few features as examples:

  1. Sans serif fonts (these are easier to read than serif fonts)

2. Different background colours (e.g. cream or yellow)

3. Thick paper so the other side of the page doesn’t show through

4. Large font size

5. Lots of spacing between words

6. Smaller amounts of text on each page

7. Pictures to break up the text

Speak to their class teacher

A child’s class teacher will have a wealth of knowledge about how your child is progressing. If you are concerned, why not try setting up a meeting? Your child might be making good progress after all!

If your child does need more support, you can work together on coming up with a plan to help them. At the end of the day, you both want what’s best for your child!

Looking for more ways to support your child in their reading? Check out our top 10 literature podcasts for children and discover how poetry can benefit your child!

Happy reading!

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