How to help a child with reading difficulties

If your child is having reading difficulties, it may affect his ability to comprehend or assimilate what he reads. It may be difficult for you to see your child struggle with simple words or read in a ‘sluggish way’. As a parent, there are a lot of things you can do to raise your child’s confidence and improve his reading skills.

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Read: How do You teach a Child with a learning disability

Why is my child having a hard time reading?

Some reasons for reading difficulties in a child include the following:

Learning disability or difficulty

Wikipedia defines learning disability as a ‘condition in the brain that causes difficulties comprehending or processing information’. It is often touted as the primary cause of reading difficulties in children. A child with learning difficulty does not mean he is poorly motivated or not brilliant. It has nothing to do with ‘retardation’ or ‘idleness’. It is related to the way the brain functions or processes information, especially new content.

Dyslexia is a learning disability that affects the brain’s ability to process language. It leads to serious reading difficulty. It is estimated that more than 17% of the world’s population are dyslexic.

Learning style

As every child is unique, so is their distinctive learning style which works best for them. There are seven learning styles, which are: interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic (visual), kinesthetic (physical), aural, visual (spatial) or logical (mathematical). A child who is not taught according to his learning style may find it challenging to develop essential skills.

Attention disorder

Attention disorder can negatively impact learning and make reading difficult. It can cause serious distraction and inability to pay attention to what is being read. An example of a learning disorder is Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Read: How do I help my child who is struggling in school

How can I help my child who is struggling to read?

Here are some strategies you can use to support and help your child read more efficiently:

Your child’s strengths should not go unnoticed

Children are endowed with unique strengths and abilities. Your child is not an exception. Maybe he appreciates nature, or he has strong imagination and dishes out creative ideas. It could be that he socialises well or has a good sense of humour. These strengths are advantageous to your child. They can energise him and build his confidence.

Most times, parents are so focused on their kids’ reading difficulties that they ignore those great things their child can do exceedingly well. If your child is good with drawing and painting, you can utilise that in helping him understand what he is reading. For instance, you can draw some characters in the story to serve as a visual learning aid. It would be best if you did not give up in trying to bring out the best in your child because he has difficulties in interpreting words or cannot spell correctly. Your child’s strength is the key to unlocking his potentials.

Read aloud to your child

Another way to ease your child’s reading difficulty is by reading aloud to him daily. As your child listens to you read, it will build his language skills and help him to understand the correct pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary. It also boosts his understanding of sentence structure, as well as improves his creativity and enthusiasm in reading. Through reading aloud to your child, he will be able to find the connection between word meaning and syntactic structure. It will also grant you an opportunity to provide explanations whenever it is needed.

Celebrate every wins

The best technique you can use to motivate your child is a genuine celebration. Each word he pronounces accurately or read correctly should be celebrated. Every time you praise your child’s success, you are enabling his progress. Scolding your child for poor grades will diminish his esteem. If you appreciate your child’s ability to read fluently, you are creating a safe environment for future development. Children who struggle to read need to understand the progress they are making, not only their flaws.

Set manageable goals

For you to avoid disappointment, it is crucial to set a realistic and modest reading goal for your child. You can set short-term or small reading goals you want your child to achieve in an amount of time. For instance, you can suggest your child read 2-3 books per month. Whatever goal you set has to be manageable and possible to achieve. It will encourage him tremendously.

Read: What Responsibilities are Needed by the Parents of a Special needs Child

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