You know that your daughter is struggling to learn to read, but how can you help? Your daughter cries when it’s time for school and says her head (or stomach) hurts, but how can you help? The teachers are working with your son at school, but how can you help?
Would you love to hear your daughter’s voice from outside her bedroom door as she reads to her favorite stuffed animal or to the family pet? How can we help our children who struggle to read get the confidence they need to practice reading let alone enjoy reading?
It’s like anything else we learn in life. First, your child has to acquire the reading skills (through remediation) and then practice her new skills. Children will build confidence and self-esteem when they have reading success. But believe me, this is more of a marathon than a sprint!
Think about the most difficult thing you have learned and triple (at least) that feeling – now think about how your daughter who struggles to get the sounds from her brain to form the words, put the sounds together, and then remember the words for the sentence being read. Then, remember what she just read (comprehension). Remember how frustrated you were with that most difficult thing you learned? Imagine looking around the room and realizing you are the only one who doesn’t “get it.” Of course, there are others struggling too. But, your perception (and your child’s perception) is that they just can’t do what everyone else is doing in their class.
How can you help? Where do you start?
READING WITH YOUR CHILD EACH NIGHT IS ESSENTIAL.
Read with your child for 20 minutes each night. This provides a safe environment to read to build support and success. We all have to fail before we can truly be successful, so mistakes are welcomed, expected, and encouraged at our home. (Mostly by the parents . . . this parenting job is hard work!)
A couple of suggestions:
- Start with a topic your child is interested in (for our daughter it is Harry Potter) and read to your child. This will build her vocabulary.
- Take turns reading with your child. There may be some nights where you are doing all of the reading or your daughter is reading every other page. Do what works for your child.
- Use read-aloud programs. Learning Ally will read aloud and highlight the words as the audiobook reads to you and your child.
- Visit your local bookstore or library and find books that your child can read (no matter the level you have to start with). This will provide a good variety for reading each day, provide your child with reading success, and expose your child to more words.
- Ask the reading tutor for resources. At our daughter’s school (specialty school for dyslexia), the reading teacher provides us with reading in her notebook that is tailored to her needs at this time. But, we still supplement with other reading opportunities to grow her vocabulary.
Maybe you are more of a numbers person, if so, then this research study in Overcoming Dyslexia will help bring this to light for you – why reading 20 minutes a day is important!
- When children read less than 1 minute a day, they read 8,000 words per year. (Dr. Shaywitz found that these readers scored below 10% percentile on reading test scores.)
- When children read 4.5 minutes a day, they read 282, 200 words read per year. (Dr. Shaywitz discovered that these readers scored right at the 50% percentile on reading test scores.)
- When children read 20 minutes a day, they read 1.8 million words read per year. (Yep, you guessed it! These readers scored better than 90th percentile on reading test scores)
Even if you aren’t a statistician these numbers are bold and put reading into context. (Quite literally!) You can see from the numbers the benefits of reading 20 minutes a day. Word exposure! For your child to be successful at reading comprehension and intellectual growth, she will need a large vocabulary.
Most dyslexia remediation programs recommend 20 minutes of reading each day and you can see why, right? Exposure to 1.8 million words a year versus 8,000 words a year.
Mom Moment: Give yourself some grace here!! You may have to develop a new routine and sometimes life may get in the way, but we know the importance of reading each night with our daughter even if some nights it is only 10 minutes. Do not let this add to your mom guilt! Seriously, I just find that the more you know the better you can plan your day (including a nightly routine of reading 20 minutes).
It is very rewarding as a parent to sit with your child and listen to them read. At the beginning (I am not going to lie), it will be difficult. But, you will be able to see first hand as your child grows her vocabulary and becomes a more confident reader. This may be that the success is reading a picture book with 1-2 words on a page and that is okay too. (Celebrate every single win with your child!!) You can then read to her on other nights to expose her to new vocabulary and enjoy her favorite characters.
You already know that reading is so essential in the world we live in, but now you know how you can help your child each night. Cuddle up and read (or listen to) a good book together.
What are your favorite books to read as a family? Leave a comment, so we can share and enjoy new books together.
P.S. I would love to hear from you. Where are you struggling? Email me – Nicole