Even parents who are seriously committed to helping their child learn to read well and work hard to set aside the time to help, often find that good intentions are not enough. Somehow the time you planned for reading just disappears; however, it really isn’t such a mystery. A lot of changes take place between the time you decide you really have to address the problem of your child’s reading difficulties and your ability to follow through.
The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men (and Women) Fall Apart
You want to help, but:
- Your child refuses to cooperate – You try everything but your child won’t make an effort and halts at every second word; he sits in silence when you ask him to name the first letter of the word; cries and carries on when you announce that it’s time to read.
- Finding time is the issue – You discover that no matter what you try, you run out of time for reading and are faced with the option of not having the reading session or insisting that your child stay awake and read long past his bedtime.
- Reading is very difficult for you – English isn’t your first language or you have a learning disability and you discover that reading is becoming increasing difficult as your child progresses to the next grade and you feel you can no longer help.
- You are very tired in the evening because you are busy with other important issues like a time-consuming job, an aging parent, a chronic illness in the family, shift work, etc., and you don’t have the patience that you need to deal with a struggling reader. Anger and annoyance are triggered.
- You find you hate helping your child with reading and you just wish he would hurry up and learn and you aren’t sure he is trying as hard as he could. As a single parent, it’s all getting to be too much for you – Sometimes, adding one more parenting job is overwhelming, and you feel you are barely coping as it is.
Fortunately, There Are Solutions
Here are some things to try when time for reading always seems to slip away:
- If your child won’t cooperate, set up a reward system. He reads with you = you reward him. Do whatever it takes: an extra half-hour of TV watching…with popcorn. Whatever.
- Set a regular reading schedule at a convenient time for, say, five days a week – after school, before bedtime, after dinner – and post the schedule to remind yourself and your child. If you miss a scheduled time, make it up, and set a reward for both of you when your reading goal is met each week.
- There is a lot of advice on how to help your child figure out a word, but if you have a child who doesn’t like (has started to hate) reading, forget the reading “lesson” and concentrate on enjoying the story:
- When your child hesitates at a word, pause, then ask the name of the first letter, then ask for the sound that the letter makes, and then you, the parent, say the word. Repeat these steps each time. Move the story along.
- Read alternate pages so that your child feels you are really involved.
- Discuss what is happening in the story and have fun with “what might happen next.”
- Ask what he would do in a similar situation to what is happening in the story (even if it’s a story where the hero has supernatural powers or is an animal – life is life, real or imaginary)
- Ask for assistance if you need it. An older child in the family, or in the neighborhood, or a relative who lives nearby might be willing to assist with regular reading sessions.
- As your child becomes a better reader, you will find that he needs less help and the reading time decreases in a perfectly natural way – no need to feel guilty.
Your goal is to make the reading experience as much fun as you can for both of you, and there’s no mystery about that. 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.