Struggling Reader Home Methods*
⏰ Be consistent. Because that’s how kids learn. Students thrive on consistency and routine, it makes them feels safe. Then the reader can focus on the challenging task of learning how to read, not trying to guess what’s next. Schedule a time to work on reading and try your best to stick to it. Be honest with what your home life looks like.
🔌 Remove distractions. TV noises in the background can distract readers from hearing what s/he is sounding out. Conversation, distracting visuals, etc should be minimized as much as possible.
⏳ Be reasonable. Start with small tasks, drills, and short time periods. Give you and your student time to build up the stamina of working together on what you already identified as a challenge. This will also reduce frustration levels. 15-20 minutes is the max you want to spend on difficult tasks for younger readers.
😊 Try to be Positive. Please try not to take the fun out of reading before your student has has learned. Add some fun read aloud time (you read something the reader chooses) if you notice frustration levels are getting to either you or the reader.
📚 Focus on phonics first! This is the golden rule before engaging in fun comprehension questions. If you don’t know where your student is phonetically, this is where it helps to have an expert! Reach out to your reader’s teacher to get more information. Teachers should have reading assessment data they can share. Also, consider hiring a tutor if this is not an area you feel comfortable. Phonics is explicitly teaching students the sounds that letters and letter combinations make, so students can sound out most unknown words on their own (once all sounds are mastered).
📖 Choose the appropriately leveled book or text, when possible. There are lots of free book resources for early readers online. Please preview each text for a Struggling Reader. If the student struggles to read more than 5 words per page, that book is too hard. Struggling readers will push back on reading the “baby” books or similar language. My four year old calls phonics reader books “not real books.” Try to focus on the positive, but be honest. You can read more difficult books (to the reader) for fun once awhile, but reading becomes even harder when students are constantly struggling.
*All methods above I used with my 4 year old, who can read 1st grade level texts fluently. However, she also received Montessori instruction in a school setting. Please contact me if you want to know the exact materials I used at home.