Strategies for Struggling Readers - Dealing with Stress

Struggling readers experience varying degrees of stress at school, doing their homework and with any activity that involves reading. It is hard for these readers to understand why they have such a difficult time with something that appears to come so easily for everyone else around them. The signs of stress in children are well known nowadays: embarrassment, anxiety, withdrawal, not wanting to go to school, tiredness, irritability, headaches or stomach aches, difficulty sleeping, lying, thumb sucking, fingernail biting, or loss of appetite.

When struggling readers are feeling anxious about something like reading or taking a test, you can use strategies to help them cope. Strategies for struggling readers include:

  • Teach them to slow their breathing down. Count to four slowly for breathing in and breathing out. They will find that their body begins to relax and they can release some of the anxiety.
  • Have your struggling readers imagine what would happen if they did fail the test - would they get kicked out of school? Would they die? Of course not. Help them put their fear in perspective by rating it from 1-10: 1 being someone bugging you, a 10 being someone you care about getting hurt or dying. Most issues fall around 2-4 in reality.
  • Get them into a reading program that they can see quick gains and achievements. These will help struggling readers know they can improve and find real success in reading. The program should be research-based, systematic, explicit and sequential in its approach. See how the Discovery reading method fits these requirements.
  • Read with your child so they have a positive experience with reading to draw from.
  • Praise your struggling readers often. Notice and acknowledge all their amazing strengths.

Implementing these strategies for struggling readers can help them find joy and success in reading.