How to Help Your Child with Common Reading Challenges
This blog is all about testing and how you can best support your child if she didn’t quite measure up on reading tests. Our feature article outlined some helpful ideas for working through disappointing scores in a way that will bring a positive outcome. In this post, we want to look more closely at elements of reading that might be troublesome and make specific suggestions to help strengthen your child’s skills.
Common problem areas in reading:
1. Letters and Sounds A few years ago, children in kindergarten were able to focus on essential social skills, but now the academic bar is high. I hear about children failing kindergarten on a regular basis because they are not able to learn their letters and sounds.
2. Common reading challenges:
a. Difficulty sounding out words
b. Guessing at words and getting them wrong
c. Tedious reading – it is just plain too hard
d. Trying to sound out every word
e. Difficulty memorizing sight words
f. Sounds out a word but can’t remember it short minutes later
g. Reads, but has no idea what he’s read
h. Not understanding verbal directions
i. Forgetting what you tell her
j. Difficulty verbalizing what he wants to say
k. Poor spelling
l. Illegible writing
As you read through the list, please identify those skills that are difficult for your child and then add anything else you are aware of that is not on that list.
All the skills noted above tend to be difficult for visual/right-brained children. This is good news! It isn’t that your child can’t learn, it is that the way the material is presented doesn’t mesh with his or her learning strengths. Once you have your hands on materials that are designed for him, your child will learn quickly.
Here are some ways you can help:
1. The best, most effective way you can help your child learn letters and their sounds without it seeming like schoolwork is to read Alphabet Tales. Your child will listen to charming stories and enjoy colorful illustrations, and magically the needed information will go into their memory in a way they will remember. Without tears.
2. For reading issues a - g and k - l above, use SnapWords® cards. Each word is delivered via a colorful image, includes a body motion for an extra learning aid, and is used in a sentence which brings comprehension. Once your child has learned all the SnapWords® he or she will read with far greater fluency, will stop trying to sound out words, and will find reading much easier. Our kits include the books that will guide you a step at a time in exactly how to help your child. I recommend the 306 SnapWords® kit as a starting point. You may add a 301 SnapWords® Kit after you have completed this Kit if you desire. If you know you want all the SnapWords® now, choose a 607 SnapWords® Kit.
3. Receptive and expressive language issues can be helped by doing some simple activities daily. The reason your child might have difficulties with listening and speaking is because visual/right-brained children think in pictures, not words. If a visual child is under stress, tired, put on the spot, is upset, feels incapable, her ability to receive and use words will be greatly diminished.
Here are some simple but effective ideas that will help:
a. Make sure your child knows he is a picture thinker and that that is a good thing! It is not a weakness, but he needs to understand that when speaking and listening, he will be turning those mental pictures into words.
b. If your child likes to draw, get into the habit of having her draw a picture of anything she wants, then write a brief story about what she drew. If she is too young to write much, have her tell you verbally what she drew and write her words for her.
c. When your child is having trouble expressing himself, encourage him to be calm. There is no hurry. Next ask him what he sees? What is the main thing he can see? Have him turn the focus away from his inability to pull out words and towards the picture he can see in his head. Let him begin to describe what he sees.
d. Identify a picture that is interesting, maybe from a picture book she likes, and have her describe it to you in words. First identify the main object or person in the picture, and then have her using describing words: size, color, shape, etc.
e. If your child has difficulty following verbal directions, practice daily. Explain that you will say two things you want him to do, and for each, he will make a picture in his mind of what you said. He will picture the thing involved or picture himself doing it. For example, if you say, “Please hang up your jacket and put your shoes in your room,” your child will picture his jacket then his shoes. If you practice this skill daily, you will be surprised at the difference it will make and how it will strengthen your child’s ability to process verbal directions by linking them to images.
For suggestions for strengthening math skills, please read this blog.
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