You’ve been at the virtual learning game for a few weeks now, and you are feeling a little uneasy. Your child just isn’t grasping reading like you hoped, and you might be feeling that you just aren’t able to help them.
A huge part of at-home learning is knowing how to find the resources you need to help your child. So if you are at a loss for how to help boost your child’s reading, here are solutions that have worked time and time again.
1. Read Aloud
We severely underestimate the value of reading aloud to our children. Often, we even say things like, “I’m not going to read that to you if you can read it yourself!” Don’t worry, I do understand, and I’m sure I’ve uttered those words a time or two. However, I am still reading aloud to my ninth grader, and I can’t express how much this practice has proven to be effective at producing good readers. Reading aloud models fluency to children, and it also helps develop vocabulary. When we read aloud, we show children how to pause at punctuation, how to engage an audience by using emotion, and how to enhance comprehension skills through discussion.
So while reading aloud isn’t exactly a resource, it’s my very best tip for helping children develop reading skills. I only have one caution here. You’ll want to be sure that the material you’re reading aloud is quality reading material. If you need help finding a good selection of books to read aloud, you can check out Sonlight’s Just Great Books Collections. These collections are full of excellent literature that you and your child can enjoy together.
2. Use Explode the Code Workbooks
I’ve been a fan of the Explode the Code series for several years now. This is a really simple, inexpensive workbook series with just enough repetition to learn and practice phonics patterns without wearing a child out.
With multiple levels available, these are excellent for children learning to read at any stage. They are also great for bridging gaps in phonics instruction when a child has missed a sound or needs a refresher.
See the Explode the Code series here.
3. Pique Their Interest with Shared Reading
Some children struggle with reading simply because they haven’t quite found the value in it. There’s something really special about seeing a child truly enjoy a book for the first time. So, if your virtual student is struggling with reading, it may be that the material they are reading is just plain boring. Virtual learning also tends to create an interpersonal disconnect, so it’s likely hat your child is longing for interaction with books.
In that case, shared reading is just what the doctor (the reading doctor, that is!) ordered.
Search out some great, proven titles to share together with your child over bedtime or storytime. First, make sure that the book you choose isn’t too difficult. Then, grab a blanket and cuddle up with your book (better yet...make a fort!), and read together. You might try reading a while, following along the words with your finger, and then let your child take over for just a bit. Don’t let them get weary of reading though.
If they aren’t quite ready to read a page at a time, have them jump in and read a few words here and there while you read. Be sure to stop and talk about the book every so often. Laugh or cry together, and you will undoubtedly bond over books. Sonlight is the best at choosing quality titles for children.
Browse these lists for winning books:
- Just Great Book collections
- Current Summer Readers
- Past Summer Readers
- More Discontinued Summer Readers
This new interest might just be enough to give them the boost they need to get over the drudgery of early reading.
4. Go Easy on Them
No, I don’t mean to lighten up your expectations to master reading. I mean go lighter on the reading level. When a child is struggling with reading, going back to easier books for a time really helps.
Many times, a child struggles simply because they weren’t ready to move on in the first place. If you’ll go back to simpler books, the child will build confidence and perfect sight words and simple phonics sounds. Once you try this practice, you’ll be surprised at how quickly they will make up for lost time.
As parents who want the very best for our children, sometimes we get stuck on an arbitrary timeline of where your child should be reading at a particular age. But children don’t even physically grow at the same rate. They don’t lose teeth at the same rate. They don’t do anything else at the same rate as other children, so why do we expect them to do academic things on the same timeline as everyone else?
Many public school libraries do not allow children to check out books below or above their tested reading level. While I understand the reasoning behind it, I disagree with it. If you are doing virtual learning, you are in a position to give your child freedom to choose whatever book he or she would like to read. This freedom is invaluable with a struggling reader.
Letting them read easier books is a great strategy to use to boost their reading skills. Over time, just keep building—slowly—to more difficult books until they are back on track with their reading.
5. Don’t Show Your Concern
Kids can pick up on moods and feelings, so if you are stressed about their reading skills, chances are pretty good that they are stressed too. Don’t make a big deal about their reading deficits. Only be encouraging.
Make reading time special. Share books together, and just relax.
I know that’s tough to do when you have virtual learning deadlines looming, but I can’t stress to you enough the importance of keeping a positive tone toward reading.
Any time I talk to parents about reading, I try to remind them that it is much better that your child enjoy reading than it is that they are the best at it. A child who enjoys reading will eventually be a great reader because they will keep practicing it. You only stop progressing when you stop trying, so make sure your child keeps trying! Cultivate a love of reading with your children, and you will cultivate a life-long learner.