Does your child struggle with reading skills? As parents, we naturally want to help our children learn. Sometimes though, it is difficult to know just how to do that because teaching methods change as research on basic reading and reading comprehension identifies better strategies to develop specially designed instruction for reading disorders such as dyslexia. Despite this, there are some strategies you can use with your child at home that do not involve direct instruction and are unlikely to conflict with strategies your child's teachers use at school. Providing this additional help will, over time, dramatically improve your child's reading skills.
Easy Reading Strategies for Parents to Use at Home
- Participate in Library Reading Programs: Most libraries offer organized reading programs during school breaks for students based on their school levels. Many of these programs are themed and showcase some of the best works for children and young adults. The library staff may host activities based on books and have special events and field trips designed to help students explore the literature on a deeper level. Librarians are usually happy to help your child and can help find ways to involve all levels of readers within an age group.
- Explore Different Forms of Reading Material: Check out works in both their book forms and books on tape, CD, or digital recording forms. Many of the highest rated literature for children and young adults is available on tape and in book form. By having your student read along in the book while listening to the same book on tape, you are providing excellent reading benefits. The student sees and hears words and phrases together, a good way to reinforce sight-word recognition. Your child may also benefit from assistive technology such as text readers. These methods provide the student exposure to works he might not otherwise choose to read because of the difficulty. He can gain knowledge of the content and increase vocabulary without having to struggle through the book and perhaps be discouraged.
- Compare Books to Film: Have your student read a book and then check out the video version of a book. Talk about the similarities and differences in the two mediums. What did she like about each form? What didn't she like? Did she prefer the book or the movie, and why?
- Study Reading Vocabulary: As your student reads books, have her make a list of words that were difficult or unfamiliar in the book. Make flashcards of these words, spend some time together talking about the meanings and looking them up in the dictionary. Take turns showing the cards and guessing the words and meanings. As the student masters each word, remove it from the deck and put it in a place of honor. When the whole deck is mastered, celebrate with a special reward.
- Strengthen Spelling Skills: Use the same deck created in number 3 above. Have your child learn the spelling of each word. Practice the spelling. When your child feels ready, have him write the words on paper. Give him a reward for each mistake he finds and corrects. This is a great strategy to use throughout the year. It teaches students to self-correct and also reduces their fear of trying to tackle difficult words. Young students may enjoy using multisensory techniques for these activities.
- Read the old fashioned way. Take turns reading passages, or allow your child to follow along as you read.
Compare Authors' Books: Have your child read two books by the same author. It is a good idea for you to read them too so you can discuss them. Compare how they are similar and how they are different. Which did you and your child like best? Why?
Most important, remember to keep your reading activities at home stress free. Use mistakes as teachable moments. If your child gets tired of reading, take turns, or take a break. For most elementary aged students with learning disabilities, about fifteen to twenty minutes of reading at least three days a week is a good place to begin. If your child wants more time, then allow that to happen. If your child becomes frustrated, and has difficulty focusing for that amount of time, shorten the time, and consider a shorter text or a lower reading level. Establish a cozy and nurturing environment when reading. A bed time snuggle or a mid-afternoon read on the porch swing are some ideas. Involve your child in planning your reading sessions, and enjoy your time together as you get ready for school and get ready to read.
Activities like these are important for children with learning disabilities because they involve reading in a low-stress, enjoyable situation. Using these strategies regularly with your child will build skills and encourage them to see reading as a rewarding activity.
Is your child still reluctant to read? If so, try these tested and effective strategies.