Guest post by freelance blogger, Pepper Givens
Remembering letters, sounds, and sight words may be difficult for your kindergartner. Reading long picture books may seem impossible to your second grader. Your fifth grader might struggle to finish his or her assigned chapter book before the book report is due. The Great Gatsby probably seems a lot less interesting to your ninth grader than Facebook.
No matter how old your child is, he or she may be struggling with reading. Reading and comprehending what we read are some of the most complex things we do as humans. It’s no wonder that so many kids and adults struggle to develop critical literacy skills. Fortunately, if you’re the parent of a struggling reader, there are a number of things you can do at home to help your child become a better reader and make reading less difficult for your child. Here are three strategies you can try out to increase your son or daughter’s literacy skills now:
1. Reward your child for reading
If you promise your child twenty, uninterrupted minutes on his or her Nintendo 3DS or on the computer after twenty minutes of reading for pleasure, you can bet that your child will give reading a try, even if the reading material seems too difficult. Kids are a lot more likely to read what they perceive to be challenging material if they’re rewarded for doing so.
If you do decide to reward your child for reading, make sure you sit down with him or her and help out. Consider requesting that your child reads aloud to you, or consider asking a few questions about the reading material after your child reads silently. Let your son or daughter know that you’ll help with difficult words. Kids who have low self-esteem when it comes to reading will sometimes pretend to read to avoid feeling defeated by a challenging book. If you make sure your child reads, and you provide the support your child needs to read successfully, your child will begin to feel a lot less intimidated by books and eventually won’t even need to be rewarded for reading.
2. Make learning new words fun
Your child probably doesn’t think it’s very much fun to memorize new words and definitions with flash cards. So, ditch the old school memorization tools and make learning new words at home fun. For instance, you can print out a blank game board template you find online. On this game board, you can write sight words (or vocabulary words for older kids). You and your child can take turns rolling the dice and moving along the game board. The catch is that, in order to move along in the game, your child has to read the words written on the game spaces and define them. A game like this will teach your child plenty of new words and make learning those new words fun. This is just one of the many examples of games you can play with your child to increase his or her literacy skills. So, scavenge for game ideas online, and make sure you have some fun too!
3. Use technology
Technology makes learning more interactive and oftentimes more enjoyable. So, consider investing in some age-appropriate reading software that will expose your child to new stories, words, skills, and ideas. If you have an e-reader or tablet you already use for yourself, download some e-books for your son or daughter on it. Technology can bring difficult and tedious subject matter to life, and it can make learning new concepts seem less like arduous work to your kids.
Remember that good reading habits are best cultivated both at home and at school, and try out the strategies above. Additionally, if you think your child may have a learning disability that makes reading particularly challenging, talk to a professional about ways you can provide extra support to your child at home.
Pepper Givens is an online blogger and freelance writer who focuses much of her content on promoting online colleges in Texas, as that is her home state. She also covers other educational topics and welcomes your questions and comments.