I never wanted to be a homeschooling mama… until I did. And though I recently shared about my struggles with motherhood, watching my kids learn is a privilege I never want to forfeit. I realized how much I enjoy teaching my kids when my oldest was very little and began to learn to read. He picked reading up in a snap, but when my second didn’t catch on as quickly, I wondered what I was doing wrong and why I had a struggling reader.
It turned out, I wasn’t doing anything wrong, he just doesn’t learn in the same ways my oldest does, and kids “get” things at all different ages. That is the beauty of homeschooling– meeting my child where he’s at and teaching him on his level.
I knew I wasn’t alone in wanting to help my struggling reader, so I wanted to share some tips, from a reading interventionist, about how you can help your child who is struggling to read.
Her tips are below.
5 Ways you can help your struggling reader
- Focus on phonics and phonemic awareness. Phonics and phonemic awareness are the foundation of reading. There are many activities you can do to help your child. Here are a few of my favorite activities:
- Phonics cards—Start with about 6 cards and teach your child the sounds of those specific cards. Repetition is key, so be sure to practice these over and over. If she makes a mistake, gently tell her the correct answer and have her repeat after you. Then have her do it three more times. Try these or, for a free set of phonics cards, click here.
- Elkonin boxes—You will use these to segment a word by its “phonemes,” individual sounds in a word. So, for example, a two phoneme word might be “an.” The phonemes are the sounds of “a” and “n.” There are the same number of boxes for the number of phonemes in a word. A two phoneme word would have two boxes; a three phoneme word would have three boxes and so on. You would say the word (for example, “an) and your child would repeat that word. Model pushing some type of object from below the boxes into each box for each sound. Your child would do as you do for about 5-6 words. Try this cute version, or check out a great free resource here.
- Beginning, middle, end sounds—Teach reading words by breaking it down into the beginning, middle and ending sounds. There are several ways you can do this.
- One way is to write a word on a board, read aloud each sound in the word as you point under the letter that makes that sound, then have your child do the same thing. Next, ask your child what is the beginning, middle, or end sound in that word and have them tell you the sound. Focus on one sound at a time.
- Another way to teach this is to do it all orally and put hand motions to the sounds. You would do the same procedure as you would with the first way, but you’d use the hand motions rather than actual written letters.
- Make reading fun—Reading is NOT fun for struggling readers. They know they’re struggling, and it’s easy to get frustrated. Try these tips to make reading fun:
- Take it slow. Don’t rush. It takes time for some children to develop into readers. They’ll get there.
- Give authentic praise. Use very specific praise when your child does something well. Avoid “good job” type praise. It’s not specific enough.
- Play reading games. You can make your own games pretty inexpensively just by looking online and getting some ideas.
- Watch fun phonics videos. You can find videos on youtube, teachertube, or just do a search online.
- Use fun websites like starfall.com, abcmouse.com, pbskids.org, funbrain.com, and more.
- Multisensory activities are magical—Many kids learn better with multisensory activities. This includes movement, touch, auditory (listen), and visual. You can use a variety of materials to have your child, say, spell, and say it again.
- magnetic letters
- sandpaper—students write with their fingers on top of the sandpaper.
- sand or sandboxes
- Legos are great because you can link them together and take them apart to teach sounds and words.
- Scrabble letters
- anything else you can think of that makes letters and your child can see, hear, and feel the letters and sounds.
- Go back to the basics— Start at the very beginning, even if your child is a little older. The stuff he already knows will come easily, and the stuff he struggles with will stand out. Act as though you have not yet done any reading practice. This will give him the opportunity to stroke his ego with the stuff that he already knows, and give you the opportunity to pinpoint where you need to focus. Here are some great books you can use to go back to basics:
- Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
- Explode the Code Books A, B, and C (for very early readers) or Explode the Code Books 1-8 (for those who have a foundation)
- Bob Books
- Meet the Sight Words
- Build successes—Use easy decodable words that your child can learn quickly and be able to read independently with great confidence. Building confidence will bring successes which shows the reader he can do it. You can find phonics books and easy decodable books online. Build to harder skills and books.
More books to help your struggling reader:
- The Decoding Solution: Rime Magic & Fast Success for Struggling Readers
- From Phonics to Fluency: Effective Teaching of Decoding and Reading Fluency in the Elementary School
Being a homeschooling mama is a tough job, but having a struggling reader can make it feel like you’re doing something wrong. Hang in there, your kiddo will catch on soon enough. Just remember, you’ll want to build confidence by providing activities like the ones mentioned here, that help your child succeed in reading.
What are some other ways you help your struggling reader?