Reading is a very important skill for children to learn. They’ll need to be a confident reader in order to perform well at school, and reading for pleasure can help children to build a bigger vocabulary, learn about the world, and learn to communicate more effectively. However, if your child struggles with reading, helping them to enjoy reading can feel like an uphill battle. Here are some helpful tips to encourage a struggling reader.
- Choose books carefully. When buying books, pick ones that your child naturally gravitates towards, but don’t have words that they will find too difficult to read and understand. The topic of the boom should appeal to them. Lively illustrations can go a long way to creating a more positive association with reading. Hi-Lo books can be ideal for this. These books are designed to be high interest, but with low reading difficulty, for readers who struggle.
- Ensure their success. The fastest way to put off a child who is already struggling to give up trying to read altogether is to give them something too hard. A few hard words in a book are ok, especially if you’re reading together, but make sure that there is context or illustrations to help your child work out the word they don’t recognize. An easy book can deliver a sense of accomplishment so your child will feel more confident reading.
- Pre-teach new concepts. Before giving your child a book, take a look at it yourself, and find anything that you think they might have trouble understanding. Take some time to teach your child these concepts before asking if they want to try the books. Taking the time to do this helps your child to build skills and confidence, without accidentally putting them off.
- Read together. A great way to make reading more fun and less intimidating is to get involved yourself. Take turns to read a page or a paragraph each. Doing this is successful for a few reasons. Your child can hear how you pronounce words, how you work with punctuation and you read with expression. They can model their own reading on this, and get in some reading practice themselves, with you there to help with any tricky parts that they might come across, whether it’s a word they don’t know or a new concept.
- Be gentle, kind, and positive. Your child won’t want to read if they feel pressured. Help them to associate books with pleasant times and they’ll be far more inclined to keep trying until they get the hang of it. If you’re piling the pressure on, pushing them to read when they don’t want to, or giving them books that are too difficult, they aren’t going to learn to enjoy reading for themselves and will be put off reading for school as well. Praise reading, but be ready to back off and let them take a break if they’re finding it too hard. If you read together, make it a fun experience, like a bed-time story, not a lesson.