Learning to read

5 Ways to Help a Struggling Reader [Ep 58] 

Navigating the Challenges: Practical Approaches to Help Struggling Readers  

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Having a child who is struggling with reading can be a challenging and frustrating experience. As a parent, you want to do everything you can to support your child’s learning and help them overcome any difficulties they may face. 

Supporting a struggling reader requires patience, understanding, and targeted strategies. By understanding your child’s reading journey, assessing their abilities, targeting specific areas of struggle, curating a reading diet, and inspiring while outsourcing when necessary, you can empower your child to overcome their reading challenges. Remember, every child learns at their own pace, and with your support and guidance, they will embark on a fulfilling reading journey that opens doors to endless opportunities.

In this episode, we will explore five effective ways to help a struggling reader. Whether your child is struggling with blending words, understanding vowel sounds, or comprehending what they read, these strategies will provide valuable support and guidance. Let’s dive in!

In this episode about helping children who are struggling with learning to read, you will learn:

1: Understand Your Child’s Reading Journey

Before diving into specific strategies, take a moment to reflect on your child’s reading journey so far. Consider whether they have always found reading to be a struggle or if it has become more challenging compared to their peers. Evaluate their attitude towards reading – are they enthusiastic or reluctant? It’s crucial to remember that every child’s reading journey is unique, and they may not fit into the traditional benchmarks and frameworks set for the majority. Embrace their individuality and assess where they are in their reading development.

2: Assess Their Reading Abilities

To effectively support a struggling reader, it’s essential to understand their current reading abilities. The simple view of reading assessment can help you identify specific areas where your child may be struggling. Episode 49 of the Reading Made Delicious podcast provides step-by-step guidance on how to conduct this assessment. By assessing their reading skills, you can target their specific needs and provide the appropriate support.

3: Target the Specific Areas of Struggle

Once you have identified the areas of struggle, it’s time to target them directly. There are three common areas where struggling readers may face difficulties: blending words, understanding vowel diagraphs, and building reading comprehension skills.

Blending Words: Blending sounds together is a fundamental skill for reading. Episodes 47 and 42 of the Reading Made Delicious podcast offer practical tips on how to help your child improve their blending skills. By modeling reading, using phonic schemes, or employing various blending techniques, you can support your child in mastering this crucial skill.

Understanding Vowel Diagraphs: Vowel diagraphs, where two letters create a specific sound, can pose challenges for struggling readers. It’s important to expose your child to various vowel patterns through reading practice. Consider using resources that focus on the six syllable types, which can simplify the learning process. Episode 3 of the podcast dives deeper into the benefits of incorporating nonfiction reading into your child’s diet.

Building Reading Comprehension: As readers progress, comprehension becomes a critical aspect of reading. Struggling readers may struggle with answering questions and making inferences. Start by focusing on explicit skills, such as summarizing paragraphs or predicting what will happen next. Gradually introduce implicit or inference questions, recognizing that this skill requires practice and support.

4: Curating a Reading Diet

To create a well-rounded reading experience, consider curating a reading diet for your child. This involves selecting reading materials that align with their interests while exposing them to a variety of genres and topics. However, finding appropriate resources may be challenging. Episode 3 of the podcast provides guidance on sourcing books that match your child’s interests, bridging the gap between their preferences and available reading materials.

5: Inspire and Outsource

Inspire your child’s love for reading by continuing to read to them, even if they are already reading independently. Modeling reading as a purposeful activity demonstrates its importance and fosters their curiosity. Additionally, consider incorporating reading into everyday tasks, such as reading aloud menus or signs, to showcase reading’s practical applications.

Finally, give yourself some grace as a parent. Helping a struggling reader can be overwhelming, and it’s okay to seek external support. Whether it’s enlisting help from other family members, reaching out to their school for additional resources, or considering tutoring programs, outsourcing can provide the specialized assistance your child may need. Remember, every step forward is progress, and by prioritizing your child’s reading journey, you are setting them up for success.

Links mentioned in this episode about supporting a struggling reader :

Reading Made Delicious Resources to help support you

Join our Reading Made Delicious Podcast Community to grow your child’s reading and early learning:

Send me a DM on Instagram. I love chatting with families (and other educators). So send me a message about helping a struggling reader. 

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Ready for more? Listen to these Reading Made Delicious Podcast Episodes next:

Content Disclaimer

The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this episode are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this podcast. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this podcast. Sarah Travers disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this episode.


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