Reading Strategies for Struggling Readers

Is your child struggling to read? Knowing what reading strategies to use and how to teach reading is the key to success.

Best Reading Strategies for Struggling Readers of Any Age

Learning about reading strategies can be overwhelming. Commonly, people begin researching this topic when they have a kiddo already struggling to learn the basics.

How do I know what reading strategies to use?

  • Phonics/sounds
  • Sight words
  • Read aloud
  • Implement accommodations (increased text size, change font, etc.)
  • Systematic instruction (strategic scaffolding with targeted instruction)

Well, they all factor in! When thinking about what reading strategies to use with a beginning reader (think Kindergarten) you have some wiggle room. Age, development, personality… these all affect the child’s “readiness” for reading. However, these factors should also be considered when choosing curriculum and approaching academics overall.

Where do I begin with how to teach reading to my child?

First, determine the answers to a few questions:

  • Can my child say the entire alphabet without help?
  • Can my child write all of the upper and lowercase alphabet letters without help?
  • Can my child identify all capital and lowercase letters of the alphabet when they are mixed up and out of order?
  • Does my child know the first sound for every letter in the alphabet without prompting?
  • Does my child recognize any sight words?

Believe it or not, these basic questions should be answered whether you have an incoming Kindergartener or an older struggling reader. Many are surprised to discover their child has significant gaps in the foundational stages that pave the way to successful reading down the road. The good news is, identifying gaps provides a starting point for you to target instruction!

Next, write out goals for the next step. For example:

  • Alphabet mastery? Move on to advanced sounds like digraphs, dipthongs, and consonant blends.
  • Letter writing mastery? Move on to simple sentences and sight words.
  • Some sight words mastered? Introduce new words frequently used.

All new sounds and skills should be introduced gently, with reading and writing practice, and with repetition for mastery.

How to help an older student with reading struggles?

When readers demonstrate mastery of the above items, assessing where to begin gets trickier. Many parents are not trained on the variety of assessments available or how to administer them properly. Luckily, an experienced teacher knows which assessments will provide the information needed to guide quality and targeted instruction that will be effective for the student. Sometimes the best way to analyze needs is to work directly with a student- through careful discussion and observation, the teacher can identify skill gaps and/or deficiencies. Additionally, some teachers will consult with parents to help determine what curriculum, resources, and strategies can be used at home to support learning.

If assessing skills, implementing reading strategies, or choosing curriculum seems an overwhelming task, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help! We always encourage students to ask for help when needed – what a gift we can give, as parents, to model this by allowing someone with knowledge and training to assist as well. If you have a student who needs support, I encourage you to participate in parent-support webinars, consult with a teacher, or hire a qualified tutor for your student.

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