Strategies to Combat Reading Struggles

Reading struggles are common among children and teens. According to one study, more than half of young people in Australia aged 15 – 19 lacked the basic literacy skills needed to ‘meet the complex demands of everyday life and work.’

It’s important to seek intervention if your child has trouble reading because without help students may never catch up with their peers. With early assistance, most reading problems can be addressed quickly.

In addition to speaking to your child’s teacher and getting additional support, there are many strategies parents can use at home to boost reading skills.

Read Aloud Together 

The value of reading aloud with your child cannot be overstated. The complex skills involved in reading can only be attained through regular practice. When you read with your child, they learn to decode words and pick up the contextual clues needed for comprehension. 

Reading aloud together gives kids a chance to sound out words and ask questions. It also allows parents to get an idea of where their child is struggling. One useful practice is to ask your child to re-read a page or paragraph after you’ve read it. This helps with fluency and confidence.

Practice Sight Words

A large portion of words used in learning materials for young readers consist of high frequency words. When children learn to automatically recognise these words, it helps them develop fluency and higher-order comprehension skills.

Sight words are also known as Dolch words after Edward Dolch who created the first list. You can find a list here. To help your child become familiar with these words, use flash cards or display them around the house. Simply drawing your child’s attention to these words when reading can also help.

Create Vocabulary Lists 

Children should be exposed to new words constantly to grow their vocabulary. The more words they recognise on sight, the easier reading will become. When choosing stories and texts to read together, find ones that contain new words. Be careful not to overwhelm your child by choosing texts that are too difficult. 

It’s a great idea to pre-teach vocabulary by introducing new words and talking about what they mean before reading. Ask your child to look up unfamiliar words in the dictionary and use them in a sentence to develop confidence. Challenge them to find a new word on their own every day.

Play Word Games

Word games are perfect for helping students develop reading confidence. Games help kids focus on letters and sounds while expanding their vocabulary. They also make learning fun, and this helps immensely with engagement. 

Some games you can play at home include Junior Scrabble, Sequence Letters, Boggle and Read My List. Even simple games like I Spy can help enhance literacy. There are also free reading games available online.

Work on Concentration 

Some children struggle with reading because they lack the concentration to focus. This affects their ability to comprehend meaning. If your child falls into this category, they may benefit from audiobooks that allow them to listen and follow along with the words. 

Easily distracted students need a quiet place to read where they won’t be disturbed. These students require very engaging texts like comics to keep their attention. Helping them develop their concentration through board games or card games can be very beneficial.

Struggling readers can gain much from these strategies.