How To Help Children Who Are Struggling To Read

If you’re a teacher, you know that all children have different strengths and weaknesses.

When it comes to reading, some students struggle a lot more than others, and in order to understand how to help these children read and comprehend literature better, we need to first understand the various factors that contribute to reading handicaps.

Environmental Factors

How To Help Children Who Are Struggling To ReadLearning to read begins long before children enter elementary school, and for many children, there isn’t a lot of exposure to literature or reading as they are growing up.

Some children on the other hand are raised in households where reading and literature are common. They get a lot of bedtime stories and laptime stories with their parents where they actively engage in books on a regular basis.

These children are naturally going to have an advantage over children who didn’t grow up in that environment. The former will have a better grasp of language patterns and a stronger awareness of sound structure than the latter, who can end up feeling frustrated or intimidated in the classroom.

Genetic Factors

Some children simply have speech, language, and hearing handicaps that other students don’t. This is naturally going to make it more difficult for them to learn to read.

Fortunately, genetic handicaps don’t have to be an impasse when it comes to a child’s ability to read. While some may have to push themselves harder, they can still get to the same reading level as children who pick up reading more naturally.

5 Main Reasons Why Children Have Difficulty Reading

    1. Inability to recognize individual sounds within words. These are called “phonemes”—phonemic awareness means being able to recognize and play with these different speech sounds. Children with a harder time doing this can be described as “phonemically handicapped”.
    2. Inability to sound out different words—also known as “decoding”—is common in many students.
    3. Inability to recognize familiar parts within a word.
    4. For many children, English isn’t their first language, so they will naturally have a more difficult time learning to read than children whose first language is English.
  • Insufficient teaching methods are an overlooked factor when it comes to children’s ability to read.

Every child has their own way of learning—some are more auditory learners while others learn better through active engagement. 

Here we’ll cover some ways you can customize your teaching methods to children based on their individual needs.

Customizing Your Teaching Methods For Individual Students

Set Up A Reading Contest

Children who are more competitive need a good challenge in order to push themselves to improve. This is a great way of bridging the gap between slow readers and fast readers.

It’s up to you how you want to set this competition up, but there needs to be a prize at the end. After all, motivation doesn’t come without something to work for.

Adding Post-It Notes To The Literature

Some children learn better when they feel they’re playing a key role in the learning process. 

With post-it notes, you can make the learning process more individualized for certain students.

For example, you can add these notes on certain pages in the book with questions about what the child thinks about what’s going on, what they think will happen next, or what they would do in that situation. 

You can leave a blank space where they can fill in their answers and then you can talk to them individually about it once they’ve completed the book.

Grouping Up Like-Minded Children

If you’ve found 4-5 children in your class who learn better with the same teaching strategy, you can accelerate the effectiveness of your methods by putting them in groups.

After their reading assignments are complete, have them each write down their thoughts on the book, what they thought was most important, what they did and did not like, etc.

After that, you can have them all group these thoughts up in a way that makes sense for all of them.

Setting Up The Right Environment

For many children, the environment in which they learn is very important.

Set up an area in the class specifically for reading and make it a place where they want to be.

Set up bean bags, blankets, pillows, and a relaxing soundtrack.

This is a great way of getting their minds in the right place before delving into a 20-30 minute story.

Free Toolkit

This free reading toolkit is helping a lot of teachers with their slower reading students. It provides:

  • A way to present important ideas and information from the text in a way that students can quickly and easily connect with.
  • Ways of improving a student’s ability to not only learn to read, but to retain the information they get from the text.