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How to help a child struggling with reading

Why is reading important to help children that are struggling with reading?

To understand how reading can help a child with mathematics, we first need to understand why reading is essential.

Reading is not simply important for studying English; it crosses the entire school curriculum. Children who enter secondary school with a below-average reading age find it difficult to access all subjects in the curriculum, including the maths program. In order to access and understand a course, children must have a good understanding of the necessary vocabulary. Those children who read well from an early age do well across the entire curriculum, while those who are below their reading-age level struggle to engage with learning.

a girl reading a book

Characteristics of struggling readers

1: Rather than employing the tactics of looking at a shape, remembering, recall and knowledge of words, struggling readers try to sound out every word they see.

2: Although they sound a word, when they come across the same word later in the text, they cannot recognise it.

3: They cannot see words as images but just strings of letters.

4: They do not respond well to being taught words in isolation, because they find this difficult. If this is the case, do not use this method, but read together and have fun.

When should a child begin to read?

All children should be introduced to the written word as soon as they can sit up and hold a book. Read with them and point to the words. By doing this, your child will, from a young age, associate the shape of words with their sounds. Some children can read a few words by the age of four, some by the age of three. The key is not to be restrictive. Read to them and enjoy the stories together. Point to words as you read, and you will be surprised at how quickly they begin to understand.
How to help a child struggling with reading

How children’s reading and maths are interlinked
Like the rest of the curriculum, reading and maths are interlinked. As stated above, children who can read well do well in all aspects of secondary school and research has shown that a good maths student will also be a good reader. Maths isn’t just about numbers. It requires students to understand questions and interpret information. How can children do this if they cannot read well?

10-year-old is struggling with reading

Don’t make reading a test
Teaching your child to read does not simply start with your teaching. It starts with them gaining a love of looking at and feeling books, and listening to stories. Many parents turn reading into a quiz, a test of the child’s ability. Do this, and reading becomes a source of anxiety! Even an adult wouldn’t like to be tested each time they read a book. Reading should be a joint effort and fun. When parents and children read together, reading becomes enjoyable, and therefore, something that children want to do, and we know how hard it is to stop a child doing what they enjoy! 

How to help a child struggling with reading

Reading activities

In a world that is slowly but surely turning away from books in favour of monitors and television screens, the importance of developing a passion for reading cannot be overlooked. Reading is a habit and should be established when a child is relatively young, but what can you do to nurture this habit? Here are some suggestions:
How to help a child struggling with reading -find a reading class: 
There are many well-structured, after-school reading classes that aim to draw children to books, and help them with diction, the use of idioms and phrases. For young children, these classes can be fun, because they use animated characters and pictures.

Illustrated picture books, rhymes, silly songs, and pretend stories are also attractive to young children.

Use creativity to capture the child’s vivid imagination.

Contact your local library to see what reading groups, clubs and other opportunities they offer.

How to help a child struggling with reading – pique your child’s interest in reading 

If your child has a favourite character, pick a series of books that feature that character. For my son, it was Spider-man. Thanks to the friendly neighbourhood spidey, my son latched on to comics early in his childhood. Now, as a teenager, he still reads them. More importantly, he enjoys reading.

Build a home-library or reading corner
We cannot learn a skill like reading in isolation, so don’t leave all the hard work to the school. Pick up books you think your child might like, and bring them home. The Internet is also a rich resource of reading games that will attract children to the fine art of reading.

Characteristics of struggling readers – reading disorders other than dyslexia

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading because of problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words (decoding). Also called reading disability, dyslexia affects areas of the brain that process language.

What is Hyperlexia?

Children with hyperlexia comprehend and speak by repeating words and sentences. They learn what words mean by decoding sentences. However, they often have problems clearly expressing their own thoughts. To explain themselves, they use sentences they have learnt and reconstruct them to create new sentences. 

Numbers and letters fascinate these children. They are excellent at decoding them and have a high reading age. They can spell long and complicated words and can often read sentences before the age of three.

A child that is hyperlexic is one whose reading level is well above their expected reading age and finds expressing themselves difficult.

To conclude:
Develop and guide your child’s reading, so they can access all areas of the curriculum in secondary school. The relationship between successful exam results and literacy is a close one, so make sure you give your child the gift of good reading skills. Many resources are available and you should ensure they are as accessible at home as they are in libraries and schools.

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