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Strategies For Struggling Readers
Are you looking for effective teaching strategies for your struggling reader?
Are you fearful that your child will become one of the tens of millions of US adults who don’t have basic literacy skills?
For many children, traditional reading instruction strategies are effective.
Unfortunately, however, those same strategies are also just as ineffective for others. This is when parents and educators need to take notice.
Same lessons and methods
When we insist on using the same teaching methods for all kids due to convenience, we set them up for a lifetime of failure.
Often kids who learn differently can easily be led to believe that they are inherently bad students and readers.
Understandably, they mentally give up due to frustration.
Think about it. Who wants to repetitively engage in an activity that causes tears, anxiety and frustration?
I know, I don’t.
Of course, the last thing we want is for kids to struggle with and hate reading.
We know the value and importance of reading, but often hit a wall when we run out of strategies for our struggling reader.
The Value of Reading
Fortunately, as a society we espouse the importance of literacy for all children.
That statement is definitely true on the surface.
However, when we dig deeper into how we equip children to read, many begin to think differently.
It is not uncommon in our educational culture to determine that a child is “behind” in reading at ages as early as 6 or 7.
This message is communicated to Mom or Dad with an urgency that reading needs to improve quickly in order to be “ready for the next grade level.”
Arguably, we are standing on a dangerous precipice when we make these judgement calls based upon one modality of reading instruction and age alone.
We must begin to view effective reading instruction with the child’s “wiring” in mind.
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Adults Who Hate To Read
How many children do you know who think they “hate reading”?
Now think about the many adults that won’t even think of picking up a book.
Read a book as a form of entertainment? Heck no.
When we dig deeper, it is often because they think they hate reading.
Many adults explain that they were never good at reading when they were in school.
I argue that these adults were likely not equipped in a way that they could process and understand.
If we want to prevent the next generation from falling into the reading is the enemy trap, then we must be willing to explore alternative teaching strategies for struggling readers.
Unrealistic expectations of our children
One of the side-effects of educational and developmental benchmarks is the inherent message that all kids should fit into this box.
When kids don’t respond to the traditional teaching approach and on the benchmark timelines, trouble ensues.
Parents are under so much pressure to make their child read just like everyone else.
When mom or dad aren’t informed about optional teaching approaches and learning styles, they lean in harder.
Children struggle even more when pushed to read using strategies that inherently conflict with the way they learn.
Additionally, parents often make themselves crazy in the process in a desperate attempt to keep up with the student Joneses.
- Running their kiddos to various academic interventions
- Engaging in fights with their struggling reader as they push for them to read more
Unfortunately, when this occurs early in a child’s education or becomes the pattern, our kids learn the wrong thing.
These kids learn to hate learning and worse, they begin to believe that they are dumb.
Consequently, the idea of picking up a book causes tears, anxiety and frustration for the child (and mom or dad).
Very few adults have the capacity to fight an uphill battle every day.
So why do we force kids to learn such a crucial life skill in a way that often times conflicts with the way they learn?
Life is a gift given to us by God Himself and it is a journey.
No two people are exactly the same.
Ultimately, a child who grows up feeling “behind” can easily believe himself incapable of learning.
Forcing children to push through reading material based on grade level benchmarks is not good. It can often lead them on an unintended detour of a lifetime of reading aversion.
By taking this detour, kids miss the basic foundational skills of reading in the name of “keeping on grade level.”
Sadly, Learned helplessness is a real force that creates its own set of mental health issues.
This ultimately costs far more than whether a child reads on grade-level at age 7 or 8 or even 10.
Neurodiversity: Strategies for struggling readers
Our brains, like our bodies, develop differently and at varying times.
- Would we ever shame a young 14 year-old girl because her body isn’t as developed as other girls her age?
- Would we tell a young man that he is not achieving his potential if his voice was still an octave higher than his peers?
Of course not.
Why then do this to our children when it comes to brain development and its impact on their reading skills?
Strategies For Struggling Readers- The One That Works
There are many variables at play in the effectiveness of any one teaching strategy.
And we know that reading can be the gatekeeper to a life of success.
This is why it is critical that adults seek out alternative approaches for the struggling readers in their lives.
It has been shown to be a very effective teaching method for kids with dyslexia and many other learning differences.
I also share one of my favorite homeschool reading programs that is based on this awesome reading method.
Could it be the right approach for your child?
Do you have a struggling or resistant reader in your home?
Did you grow up thinking you were a bad reader?
What has worked and what hasn’t? Comment below and share.
We are in this together, Friend!