Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s former prime minister once said, “You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”
And this is especially true with struggling readers. But hang in there—we can get them through it!
Remember that rereading a book, a poem, or even a note or list is the best way to build automaticity, or reading without thinking about it. Reading something again helps kids get the words and concepts into long term memory. This then leads to better fluency, or reading smoothly and quickly.
Automaticity is key to good reading, and it is achievable by kids with reading problems. They may require more frequent rereading of books they try and like (or don’t like, in many cases!), and they may need more time to gain the automatic recall of the words involved, but they can get there.
The important thing is to keep reading front and center. Read menus with your child. Read recipes. Read cereal boxes. Read bits from the newspaper. Read the lyrics to favorite songs. (You can find the lyrics to almost anything these days by typing lyrics + “song title.”) Write them notes about things that are important to them—an upcoming birthday party, or something special that they are looking forward to.
Most important of all, of course: read books. Remember that just because your child can’t read something at their grade level, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they can’t understand it if read by you or a friend or sibling. With kids who are behind, it’s so important to keep building their vocabulary and undertanding of ideas in other areas so that once we do get them reading, they won’t have so much new material to learn that they give up.
If possible, once your child has mastered a book, however short, however easy, find ways for him to read it to others: grandparents, a friend of yours, a younger child across the street. Reading something he knows well again and again will build confidence, and yes, build automaticity.
It can be done, moms and dads. I know how hard it is to continue to hope, to try to help, and to constantly run into closed doors and see your child put up walls against reading.
Try to get help for your child. Reading problems don’t solve themselves, as you’ve already learned. Too often the child won’t cooperate with help from a parent. For some, assistance may come from the school, but you’ve probably relied on the school already and haven’t gotten an answer. For others, homeschooling may seem doable, and it may help. For some children, though, professional help is needed.
For my students, our 1-on-1 intensive time is the thing that finally turns them around. That is why I teach online. That is the the service I provide. That is why I would like to work with your child.
Sadly, I know that many, many families can’t afford tutoring. It breaks my heart to think of so very many kids out there hurting, and the pain their parents are feeling as well. I can only encourage you, if it is humanly possible, to save money and find a quality tutor.
I’m willing to take students on a part-time basis if you can only afford a lesson once in a while. We use the time slots that come up when kids are sick. It isn’t the best thing to do, and it won’t be the solution, but it could help. Let me know if you are in this situation. I don’t provide the free lessons, but I will give you the 25% off for the first month. I wish I could do more. Please mention in your note that you are only interested in part-time lessons.