Helping struggling readers: 7 tips to encourage reading at home

Helping Struggling Readers Tips

Suzy is like all young children. She’s interested in everything from dinosaurs to paper dolls to building blocks. But when it comes to reading, she struggles to sound out the basic vowels or letters. Her parents were so concerned, that they seek ways to encourage her to read more.

In fact, they enrolled her in different community literacy programs and local story times. To their surprise, the more Suzy was around with other children that love to read, the more enthusiastic she was about grabbing a book.

“We want to encourage students to read but not to read just anything. We want students to read books that are on their literacy level – not so difficult that they can’t process the text and not so easy that they’re not challenging themselves.” (Barringer 2006).

Struggling readers like Suzy are common when they don’t like to read. How to help them to master the essential skills necessary to begin to build a vocabulary and achieve comprehension is not easy.

Here are some ways in helping struggling readers tips to support parents:

Find out the reading level of your child

Many picture books have either designated levels or color level. Have your child read the different books until you find the right level. Or, it may be that the child is an emergent reader and needs more challenging books.

Present different types of literature

Children poetry, lyric stories, and audiobooks are few of the options kids can select from. And many stories are now available electronically.

Reward for each book the child reads

Whether it is stickers or other incentives, rewards can encourage struggling readers to pick a book or two.

Build vocabulary with theme stories

It no surprise that children love to watch movies and then read the story. Educators can encourage reading more when they show specific words or phrases about the movie and relate it to the book.

helping struggling readers tips

Construct a wordbook

In relation to the theme book and movie, children can build wordbooks with synonyms and antonyms for a comparison to contrast list. Another great way in helping struggling readers is to use adjectives and adverbs to distinguish between actions and subject descriptions.

Use sequence stories or cooking books

To follow instructions or simple steps, it requires specific stories. Recipes or building manuals can help. Baking cookies can be an excellent way to promote step-by-step directions. Building blocks, construction kits, and science experiments are great ways to enhance sequence.

Inquiry about the curious young mind

Children are curious by nature. Encourage that learning by asking questions. When reading or building, ask about the next sequence of events or instructions. This can encourage prediction about the story or next steps.

Reading is an invaluable life lesson. It is so important that many communities implement programs like the ‘All Aboard The Reading Railroad’, to encourage parents to bring literacy home. And many local communities have seen an improvement in crime rates and school dropouts.

Many of these tips can be implemented easily at home or at school. And it should be in conjunction with other literacy tools. But most importantly, children should approach it with enthusiasm and eagerness to learn.

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7 ways to help children with homework

Exercise is an activity to improve health, but people often do not consider the brain as a muscle that needs exercise. In fact, children will not even regard homework as part of exercising your mind or building your mind with knowledge. But that is what it does.

Homework helps children improve in study skills, time management, responsibility, problem solving, and diligence. What is learned in class needs to apply. And schoolwork does just that – it helps build the necessary learning skills to handle future tasks. How can parents and educators help?

We often see homework as another duty that must be completed. Yet, we rarely see this as an opportunity to help children build essential study skills to become independent thinkers. Although there are subjects that parents cannot help with, there is help. Assistance can be provided in many ways: other family members, online help, or hiring a tutor.

Among the great aid that is available to parents, these tips can also help them to help their children with homework:

courtesy of iStockphoto

1.  Provide a well-lit study area 

When a designated area of study is available for children to do their homework, students are more encouraged to learn. Their own table or desk with an adequate chair promotes paying attention to their work, whether it is simply doing math problems, reading, or answering science questions.

By doing schoolwork, it builds on the knowledge presented by the teacher in class. As students work on problems and questions, it should emphasized the concepts and understanding about the lesson the teacher is trying to present.

When you apply the knowledge learned, the concept is recorded in your brain. The brain is capable of storing information learned in useful ways. And when you are able to do homework, you help your brain to memorize information.

2.  Avoid distractions

Loud noises like television, music, sirens can all contribute to not do homework. Prevention is key to allow students to accomplish their schoolwork. Parents can make sure television or music is not part of their study area. Headphones should also not be allowed during the study session. Distractions only delay finishing homework and promote lack of responsibility.

Libraries and separate rooms are excellent ways to encourage students to finish their homework. Many libraries are capable of having individual study rooms. Reservations may sometimes be required. For older children, sometimes studying with a partner can motivate other students to complete their work.

3.  Build a routine or study schedule

Schedules are great ways to reinforce the need to do homework. Just as your brain is capable to store useful information, it also has the ability to sense when you need to learn. By following a routine, students, especially younger ones, will tend to comply with parents to finish their homework.

In fact, young children between the ages of 5 and 7 need 10 to 20 minutes of homework time. Children between the ages of 8 and 10 require at least 30 to 40 minutes. And children between the ages of 11 to 13 require 60 minutes or more, depending on their level of work. High school and college students many even need more structured study time.

4.  Break up the workload

When tasks involve research or extensive studying, make sure students know to break the work in sections to alleviate the burden of finishing the homework. If possible, allow 1 or 2 hours per week to finish the school task until the project is completed.

Agendas and calendars are great tools to encourage students to jot down their goals to complete a project. And many of these organizational tools are now available as apps for mobile phones or other devices.

5.  Provide a reward system

When projects and homework are finally completed, rewards are wonderful incentives for students. For younger children, examples of incentives could be stickers, small toys, playing at a local game venue, or just simply playing with their best friends. For older children, some incentives would depend on their wants.

The decision to follow good grades and completing schoolwork with rewards should be set by the parents. Reward systems are wonderful ways to encourage students, at any age, to motivate them to finish it.

6.  Assist to a minimum

Parents should resist the temptation to finish their children’s work. Not only does this present an opportunity for them to reject homework, but it also shows lack of commitment. Explaining to them that schoolwork is a matter of responsibility may not be easy. But parents should sit down with them to help them understand unfamiliar concepts. And allow them to figure out the proper answer. But when parents lack the knowledge to assist their children in their work, asking for help early can prevent future frustration.

7.  Look out for struggling learners

Even though homework is part of every student’s duty, struggling excessively to finish it should be handled early. As soon as parents see their children struggle in any form of learning, early intervention is key for their success. Parents can find resources for homework help at their local libraries, online, or by hiring a tutor.

Local libraries are great ways to begin to look for sources to help struggling students. But some libraries may be overwhelmed. Online help is another tool to help parents to seek quick information. But hiring a tutor is the most valuable resource parents can have. Tutors are experts and educators in their field to motivate students to succeed.

Spanish4Kiddos tutoring services has helped numerous children to overcome learning struggles. If you need any information about my tutoring services or credentials, please don’t hesitate to contact me. And the greatest compliment I can have from my readers is you shared this article. Thank you.

No Child Left Behind program: Reasons it needs to matter

Is it possible to have a 6 year old held back a grade because of inadequate reading skills? Is it possible to have a 3rd grader not be able to read at their level? Is it possible to implement a program that can prevent this from happening?

All these scenarios present the distress in the educational system that has been accumulating for decades. The United States educational system is crying in desperation for a reform. It is stating year after year that parents, educators, professionals, and students should wake up before more and more bilingual children are illiterate. Or more and more high school students decide that graduating is not an option.

What can parents and educators do to help bilingual struggling readers?

When the No-Child-Left-Behind Act (NCLB) was passed in 2001, it presented hope for those children that lag behind in school, for those children that need that extra push to succeed, or for those children that need a little bit more encouragement. But these children need more than education. They need a caring community.

It is a whole community that needs to participate into the program: teachers, educators, tutors, parents, caregivers, family members, mentors, and anyone that would care to encourage a child. As a matter of fact, the NCLB program is meant to do just that: bring children that are struggling in school up to date.

When parents and educators work together, bilingual struggling readers thrive. When parents and students work together, family reconnect. And this intervention in education is probably the most significant aspect in any child’s life. Research has shown that when parents and educators collaborate, the struggling child tends to do much better academically.

In particular, bilingual struggling readers tend to perform much better under the NCLB program. Because of so many circumstances, many instances English is not the spoken language in bilingual homes. Hence, children from these bilingual homes are not fully prepared by the time they enter elementary school. Children in the NCLB program tend to improve their reading skills and behavior. And this eventually helps them move onto the next learning stage.

If parents or caregivers perceive that the child is not reading at the corresponding level or is struggling in other subjects, there’s help. Many resources are available in English and Spanish. Here are a few helpful resources:

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