Kids need to read on a regular basis — some say daily. It’s the best way to improve their vocabulary and their speech. It’s also a fun and cost-efficient way to entertain your children (hey, a library card is free!). It improves their imagination and contributes to better performance in other subjects, as well. Books also teach children lessons they need beyond the classroom — things like morals, manners, and civics, among others.
Of course, reading doesn’t come easy for some children. An estimated 10 million children have difficulties learning to read. Fortunately, more than 90 percent of these struggling readers have the ability to overcome their problems with the right treatment and support from their parents. Here’s how you as a parent can help your child when they are struggling with reading.
Encourage Their Strengths
Reading involves five factors: comprehension, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, and phonics. Generally, when a child is struggling with reading, the problem is their grasp of one of these concepts. Figuring out which one your child has a problem with may take the help of their teacher, or a reading specialist, but once it’s done, you can find out how you can help your child.. Whichever factor they struggle with, they have four more that are their strengths. Encourage these strengths when reading with affirmations and positive reinforcement.
Beyond their reading skills, every child has individual strengths that should be encouraged. Whether your child is particularly patient and even-tempered or they are great at creative at problem-solving, these are things you should praise. You can also find ways to incorporate their skills into their reading comprehension. For instance, if your child is a talented artist, have them draw their interpretation of a story or passage after reading it.
Share Your Own Struggles
Kids and their limited years have a bit of trouble seeing their own problems with perspective. Sharing your own struggles and how you’ve had to work for things throughout your life tells your child that everyone — even you, their hero — has something they find difficult. Knowing that they are not alone gives your child a sense of security. Furthermore, finding out that their role model once had trouble with something they eventually mastered gives them the confidence they need to overcome their reading struggles.
Create a Designated Space for Reading
A cozy reading nook is a great way to encourage household reading time while reducing distractions that can keep kids from paying attention to a story. Make sure you set up your reading nook in a part of the home that doesn’t see too much traffic– think of converting a closet or that extra space under the stairs if you can spare the room. A corner of the bedroom is also a great place to set up a reading area. Their room should already be decluttered to encourage sleep, so all you have to do is set it up with the things that make a reading nook enjoyable:
- Enough light to make reading easier on the eyes
- A comfortable place to sit for hours
- Something to create privacy
- Storage for books
- A dictionary for looking up words children don’t know
- Blankets, candles, art, incense, and any other cozy accessories
Kids should be reading regularly, if not daily. If your child struggles with reading, make sure to talk with their educators about what particular things they are having trouble with. Use your child’s strengths to encourage their progress and share your own stories of struggle as a way to motivate their hard work. Finally, a nice little place in the home that serves as a reading nook can help get them in the right frame of mind to concentrate on their story.