Sometimes even quite young children will dig in their heels and refuse to accept help in learning how to do something they find difficult – like reading, for example. You can be given great advice on how to help your child, but the fact is that no one can make a person learn. The only way your child will learn to read is by having the tools for learning presented to him and by being given opportunities to practice and receiving lots of encouragement.
A teacher presents the tools; parents offer the practice and encouragement. Sooner or later, even the most reluctant student accepts the inevitable and will apply the rules – those that are the most useful to him – and learns how to read, but may not like it much and may do everything possible to avoid it.
Without sufficient practice, the child will be a poor reader and, as a parent, you may have your work cut out for you in trying to change that. The struggle may start to wear you down.
Remind Yourself of the Importance of Helping Your Child
Parents want to help their children learn to read well so that all the benefits of being a good reader will be theirs. And there are a lot of them! A child who reads easily and well finds that life itself becomes easier:
- With practice and encouragement, the child will perform well in reading at school which is one of the two key subjects in the early grades (math is the other).
- Studying anything becomes easier because reviewing notes and reading books becomes faster.
- Exam performance at school improves in all subjects because instructions are read faster and are more easily understood.
- Research can be done faster and assignments done more quickly.
- Everything in life becomes easier for a good reader, including the desire to stay in school, the ability to get a good job, and everyday tasks:
- understanding directions, “how to” information, and warnings
- filling out job applications, medical forms, and ordering supplies
- reading menus, road maps, and phone books
Your child will become more confident in school and in his ability to cope with the world.
What to do if You Can’t Make it Work
If all seems lost and none of the solutions for setting up a regular time for reading practice works – you have great difficulty setting aside the time; your child becomes angry and uncooperative – don’t give up. Find other reading opportunities that don’t include sticking to a schedule and reading an actual book (at least, not at first).
- Set up a game of reading street signs: you read all the blue ones and your child reads all the green ones – who found the most? Have him read billboards, notices, information about lost dogs taped to street posts – anything, but do it regularly.
- Play games that require reading instructions for each step – Monopoly, for example.
- Tell him he has to read from the menu when ordering food – find the items and actually order them as written (double cheeseburger with tomato, etc.). Make time for this and rehearse with him before he orders.
- Have him read the comics in the newspaper for you, and jokes from a magazine.
- Watch movies together in another language and have him read the English translation scroll. Most Disney movies are in two languages, but make sure it is a familiar one that he has watched many times before. Be prepared to give lots of help at first – the child reads the first line and you read second line, or read alternate screens (and keep your finger ready at the pause button!).
All these practical reading experiences should help convince your child that reading can be fun as well as being an important and useful skill, which may help reconcile him to performing what is, to him, a difficult task. With time, you may get back to the book reading experience, which is the ideal way to learn to read faster and more easily.
Something’s Missing is for sale in paperback at this link to Amazon.com, or by clicking on this Amazon.ca link, and at Barnes and Noble, and independent bookstores. If your child enjoys e-book reading, watch for the Kindle version, coming soon.
Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Maureen Grenier and a clickable link back to this page.