I have always loved to read! And I was a fairly early reader. I just assumed my children would be the same. Never assume your children will be just like you, ha! My daughter struggled to read and I had no idea how to help her. I felt completely lost and hopeless for a long time. I am sure she had similar feelings. I knew daily crying at reading time was not working. I wanted reading to be something enjoyable in her life like it has been for me. And even if she didn’t love to read, I did not want it to be a cause of anguish.
We ended up getting an evaluation and therapy for Visual Processing Disorder and Dyslexia and saw improvements! I continued to read every book I could find on how to help a struggling reader (Scroll to bottom to see books I suggest). I want to share some of the many ideas we incorporated in to our school time. Today she is an avid reader at age 10. I can’t keep enough library books around for her!
- Reading every day is important! Read with your child and help them when they are stuck on a word. Every day read and reread two or three pages from a basic reader and discuss what you just read. Read from books that are a bit easy to build confidence at first. If you go too fast and get books with too many words they can not read, discouragement comes quickly! One way to do this is to read a passage to your child, read it together, and then have your child read it again alone.
- Work on 5 new words each week on flash cards. Review them daily! My absolute favorite flashcards are Snapwords and Dianne Craft’s Right Brain Flashcards and readers.
- My daughter had trouble with letter reversals, especially with “b” and “d” so we would practice those a lot. Practice just “b” saying the letter as you trace it with your fingertip. Use tactile letter practice with all the letters! As silly as this sounds, my kids remember best with this analogy (go figure, potty humor):
- Work on leaning the Dolch/Most used words list. This set is a fun way to learn them for little ones who love hands on.
- When reading, we would place a sheet of paper or 1 inch strip under the line she was reading from to help keep her places on a page.
- You can work on fluency at http://www.reading-assistant.com. Make a chart of times fluency so your child can see their success! You can also do this with just a list of words.
- Make jigsaw sentences. Use word tiles or paper words you cut to make a mixed up sentence. Have your child fix it and read it.
- Make “zip cards” of short phrases (such as: do not, I am, they are, big kiss, so long, little boy, jump up). Show them quickly. Keep a score board of zipped and unzipped words (incorrect)
- Make a chalk drawing on the ground of different blocks with letters or blends in them (th, sh, wh, r, h, ch, aw, er, oa, ing, etc.). Have your child jump to the correct answer.
- Jump to the first sound in the word ______
- Jump to the last sound in the word ______
- Jump to “i” if you can say it’s two sounds
- Jump to the middle sound in ______
- Scavenger hunt for words to get a small prize. Rocket Phonics reading program does this and one of my favorite curriculum for Dyslexic and struggling readers!
- To help with short term memory, play “set the table game.” Have a bag with objects in it. Make a scene and let your child study it. Then have them close their eyes and remove an object or rearrange the objects. Let them try to figure out what changed.
- Make cards with words or letters on them that are either the same or different (afn/afn, was/saw, 0030/0003, went/want, pgrt/pstm. Flash the cards and your child must say if they are the same or different.
- Make a word ladder. Draw a ladder on a piece of paper with 15 rungs. Use your word cards or letters to flash and read. If they read it right, they move up one rung. When they get to the top, they get a small treat.
- Work on rhyming words and syllables.
- Work on visual processing. My kids love Spot It! and Visual Tracking exercises.
There are so many cute ideas and games on the internet now! Do some searches and get creative! Don’t make reading drudgery! If reading is not going well, take a break and come back to it. Take some brain breaks (do jumping jacks, stretch, Simone Says, charades, etc.). And don’t be afraid to seek help!
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My top book suggestions for parents of struggling readers:
When the Brain Can’t Hear: Unraveling the Mystery of Auditory Processing Disorder
See my other blog posts about our journey with Dyslexia and processing disorders and follow me on Pinterest at Kind of Crunchy Homeschool. I would love to hear from you! What have you tried and had success with?