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How to Help a Child with Reading Difficulties: A Guide for Parents

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By Scott Winstead

how to help a child with reading difficulties

If you’re looking for information on how to help a child with reading difficulties, the first thing you should know is there is hope.

Every child is different, and children grow up with different abilities and capabilities to handle various tasks, among them reading.

While some start reading as early as three years old, others may have difficulties that prevent them from grasping information as fast as their peers.

Other children start on a high note and can read well in their younger years but regress or plateau after a while.

Whatever the situation, there are plenty of things you can do to help your child if they’re having difficulty reading.


How to Help Kids Overcome Reading Difficulties

Here are some proven strategies you can try to help your child with their reading problems.


Use Screen Time Wisely

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These days, it’s common for kids to spend hours playing on tablets and other devices. Unfortunately, too much screen time could be detrimental to your child’s development, especially if it’s wasted on activities that aren’t educational.

To help your child improve their reading skills and manage such difficulties, make sure any screen time they do get is used to help them learn and grow as individuals.

The good news is there are some great online reading apps that can help kids have fun while gaining reading experience simultaneously. 

HOMER is one of the best reading apps out there and has been shown to increase early reading scores by 74%!

This educational app is aimed at kids ages 2 to 8, offering totally personalized learning tracks for little ones. It’s a fantastic tool for helping new and developing readers improve their skills and gain confidence.

Your child can choose topics they’re interested in, and HOMER will include those topics in their reading lessons to keep them engaged and entertained.

With HOMER, your child can learn the basics of phonics and letters all the way through a complete literacy learning lesson plan to help them improve their reading level over time.

Moreover, HOMER also uses tools like drawing, voice recordings, songs, and stories to help your child build their reading skills.

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Select Books that Match Your Child’s Understanding Ability

Most parents or guardians don’t understand the importance of getting books that are suitable for a child’s level.

If you’re wondering how to help a child with reading difficulties, start stocking their bookshelves with materials that match their level. 

Many books will show the appropriate age or reading level that matches the targeted reader.

In this case, all you need to do is select the book and hand it over to your child.

However, you can apply the old-age tactic of monitoring them as they read and changing the reading level if the child makes two or more reading errors in a ten-word sentence. This issue indicates that the level is beyond their ability so you may need to choose something a little easier.

You can also consult the local librarian on the best reading level for your child after explaining the kind of reading difficulties you have noted in them. Being an expert in books, a librarian is your best bet on helping your child choose books with interesting topics and captivating their curiosity.


Be Supportive of Their Reading Efforts

Some children face reading difficulties because they don’t understand the content, and your support goes a long way in correcting that.

For instance, they may need your help reading new words for the first time or understanding the context of a story. If you are not around to guide them in this process, the reading difficulties can persist and overshadow their existing potential, lowering their confidence to try again.

Your child may also require a different approach during their reading practice, and your support comes in handy.

While some children read better through letter sounds, others rely on phonics and word meanings.

Guided reading will help them identify their strengths and limitations, helping them select the reading strategies that suit their abilities. The multisensory reading approach falls in this category, but your child may not realize that’s what they need unless you help them with it.

Exposing the child to a wide vocabulary range boosts their comprehension, and they can identify the words when they appear in a text.


Introduce Your Child to Audiobooks

According to some experts, your child’s reading comprehension is likely to improve if they listen to audiobooks and read simultaneously. This tactic is especially helpful to children with poor reading skills and a short span of attention. 

You can test this strategy by subscribing to free trials of sites offering the service or consulting with your local library for a tape of your child’s favorite book. 

Despite their benefits, you should not use audiobooks as a total replacement for face-to-face reading time with your child, as it helps them catch the nonverbal cues and relate them to the written content. Reading to them also builds their vocabulary range and pronunciation skills.


Recognize Your Child’s Reading Problems

The best way to help your child overcome their reading difficulties is first identifying and understanding where the problem is.

These issues range from mild to extreme, and each requires a different approach to manage the situation.

Associating your child’s reading challenges with a specific cause helps you create a strategy to navigate the issue and help them sooner.

When your child starts reading, pay attention to their strengths and weaknesses, noting them down to reference when helping them.

Research different approaches to combat the issues while encouraging your child to continue trying until they improve their reading skills.


Seek Professional Reading Support

After noticing that your child is struggling with reading, it is advisable to seek professional support to help them get better. Some children take less time to catch up, while others may require additional support like private tutoring. 

Experts from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that 95% of learners exhibiting reading difficulties have a chance to meet their grade-level reading requirements after getting special support.

Various nationally recognized groups exist to offer assistance through multisensory teaching strategies, focusing on your child’s strong senses to improve their reading skills.


Final Thoughts on Helping a Child with Reading Difficulties

It’s perfectly normal for children to struggle with reading. After all, reading is a complex skill that requires the coordination of many different skills, from phonemic awareness to fluency.

The good news is that with a patient, strategic approach, parents can help their children overcome their difficulties.

By providing opportunities for practice and explicit instruction in phonics and fluency, parents can give their children the tools they need to become successful readers. And don’t forget to make learning fun for little ones by using reading apps like HOMER.

By instilling a love of reading, parents can encourage their children to persevere even when they encounter difficult texts.

With patience and support, parents can help their children develop into confident and proficient readers.

Have any questions about how to help a child with reading difficulties? Comment below so we can help.

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