In the United States, 14 percent of the adult population—which amounts to around 32 million adults—struggle with reading. Year after year this problem has mounted up. As a result, building good reading skills in early childhood becomes paramount as reading skills acquired early on build the child’s literacy foundation later on in life.
The 2013 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) reading test results revealed that a staggering number of young people continue to read below grade level. 65% of all U.S. fourth-graders scored “below proficient,” meaning that they are unable to read at grade level. This number was 64% of eighth-graders. Based on an analysis of NAEP test scores, it is estimated that 25 million children in the U.S. cannot read proficiently
If you’re a parent who is worried about their child’s reading development and keen on learning about early reading intervention strategies, this blog is meant for just you! First off, realize that early reading intervention can make a huge difference in your child’s reading skills.
Early reading intervention is essential for the development of reading skills in children at the elementary school level. This not only starts their learning journey early on but also benefits them in later school and adult years.
Most Common Signs of Reading Struggles in Children
Children struggling to read often exhibit certain signs. Let’s dive straight into the 5 most common ways you can identify that your child is struggling with reading (age-appropriately):
- Difficulty in recognizing and pronouncing words in print
- Ommission of certain words while reading a sentence, jumping straight to the end
- Difficulty recognizing sounds and the letters that make up those sounds
- Extremely slow reading and a general disinterest/ avoidance of reading
- Poor writing, spelling, and expression skills
If your child exhibits any of the above signs, it’s likely they are silently struggling with reading. To say that reading must be a part of the routine is a piece of overused advice, to say the least. To address these struggles at the root level, as a parent there is much more you can and should do.
We suggest that you start small and work your way up to more complex early reading intervention strategies. To give you a headstart and some structure, to begin with, here are our top 5 ways to help with your kids’ reading struggles:
1. Build phonemic awareness – the fun way!
(or simply, the awareness of the spoken sounds that make words)
Phonemic awareness is important! In fact, any grade-schooler with a reading difficulty will have issues with phonemics. Trouble in hearing the different sounds in words (phonemes) makes it hard for children to decode them and understand the letters when they read.
Phonemic awareness is all about how a reader notices letters representing sounds. It basically, helps children sound out and hence read correctly. It also helps children understand the alphabetic principle that the letters in words are methodically represented by sounds.
At home you can do several activities to build your child’s phonemic awareness, start with the following:
- Play ‘rhyme’ games with your child (for example, ask your child to tell the words they can think of that rhyme with ‘rat’. Tell them that they will earn 1 point per such word)
- Ask them to segregate sounds in common words used in the household like, broom, vacuum, kitchen, parsley, etc. Play this game on the go while talking to your child during household activities
- Apps like HearBuilder can help build phonemic awareness, sequencing, and auditory memory skills. They have a bunch of games and activities to make the learning process fun for your child
- Use guessing games that can get your child engaged without feeling pressured. For example, you could ask them questions like, “I’m wearing something warm that rhymes with a racket. What is it?”
2. Practice dialogic reading with your child
Note: this is useful and doable mostly for parents with middle-schoolers, but you can try a toned-down version of it with younger kids as well.
Dialogic reading is nothing but introducing a conversation while reading a piece of text. All you have to do is, pick out a piece of text and read it along with your child. Take sufficient pauses in between to discuss the text. Encourage them to ask you questions both about the ideas and about the functional aspects like spellings, grammar, etc.
You should also open the dialogue between you and your child to nudge them to think deeper and in turn enjoy the text. For example, you could ask them:
- “Which word do you think would have been better in place of this?”
- “What do you think is the author trying to say in the last line?”
- “How many new words did you spot in this?”
Remember to pick out topics of your child’s interest before doing this exercise. For example, if your child loves baseball, read a small bio of their favorite player, along with them. This way, they’ll be both interested in and capable of holding a conversation on the topic.
3. Use the power of digital tools and language games
There are a gazillion apps in the market – both free & paid, that promise to help your child get better at reading. For example,
- if your child needs help with ‘focus during reading’ and ‘writing skills’, iWriteWords is an app you could check out
- If your child is struggling particularly with phonics, Bob Books Reading Magic is the app to try out. They have phonics-based interactive games that endeavor to create a successful first reading experience
- Another app called Endless Reader, deploys the use of ‘sight words’ (the most commonly used words in school, library, and children’s books) for early reading success
There are many other similar apps and books that you can pick out based on your child’s immediate needs. Don’t fall for anything that overpromises or charges a very high premium, though!
4. Lead by example
Children as young as 3 years old start picking up daily habits from what they see everyone doing at home. If you’re not reading at all, chances are that your kids might as well not be interested in it either.
Leading by example is of utmost importance is a critical step in early reading intervention. No amount of counseling, routines, books, and apps will be of any avail unless your kids see you enjoy reading. So, ensure that you spare a few minutes to read – every single day. You can choose to read on your own or with your child, but it’s important that they see you revel in the activity of reading. Share your reading experience, learnings, topics, etc. with your child to get them to follow your example.
Bonus tip: Take off the pressure – from yourself and also, from your kids! Make reading a fulfilling, enriching exercise that is different from learning maths or geography. Encourage your children to view reading as a way to explore and think rather than a subject or a school requirement. Don’t appear nervous about reading or put reading 30 pages a day into a daily checklist (don’t make it seem like a chore). Treat it like a leisurely activity like watching television or weaving!
5. Get them a tutor’s help early on
Right from diagnosing the exact problem area to devising a customized combat strategy – there are innate benefits a private tutor can bring in. If you think your child needs an early reading intervention, it’s always a better idea to let an expert take up the job. A few months or up to a year of assistance can do wonders for your child, especially with respect to reading. A private tutor can:
- Evaluate your child’s exact weaknesses and blockers while reading
- Help your child develop an organic interest in reading by clearing the blockers, limiting beliefs, and by engaging them in age-appropriate reading activities
- Cultivate a reading and analysis routine in your child that is otherwise hard to build at home, by the parents alone
- Be your child’s confidant(e) and encourage them to open up and discuss their reading struggles. This is the first step in devising a solution strategy customized ONLY for your child
Also Read: Guide to Finding the Best Writing Tutor
Convinced, but don’t know where to start? Help is right around the corner! Visit Talentnook.com and connect with hundreds of ELA tutors specialized in reading & writing skills development. You can request for demo lesson, sort tutors by your budget and qualifications requirements, etc. before choosing any tutor for your child.
You could also explore our very comprehensive Elements of Reading Program aimed at students of all ages. The course is designed for each age group keeping in view their learning requirements and is helmed by experienced tutors. You can even request a free personalized assessment for your child. Save the effort, and start your child’s early reading intervention with the experts.
Visit the Talentnook Reading Program now!!
Interested in exploring more resources on how to get your child better at English Language Skills? Check out our collection of blogs on improving ELA skills