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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Struggling With A Struggling Reader

Sometimes we as homeschoolers have a hard time talking about when our kids are having a hard time with something.  Why? Because you will  get some well meaning friends offering advice such as: "don't worry he'll grow out of it", or "he'll be able to read when he's ready" , or, "surround him with good books and read aloud to him and he will get it."  I know this because I too have offered well meaning advice in the past.  Or the other extreme which are well meaning people that think it is your lack of teaching skills that cause the problem.  "You better put him in a real school so they can teach him to read." Yeah, because being ridiculed everyday for having a difficulty is going to help that out.

The truth is, some kids are going to struggle when learning to read.  Why?  The reason is different for everyone.  Some children are not developmentally ready, some may have vision or eye tracking problems and some may have hearing problems.  Some children may have varying degrees of dyslexia and just see and process things differently.

I am struggling with a struggling reader.  It is hard!  It is so hard to watch him struggle to read!  It is hard watching him pretend to read chapter books like his best friend/big brother does because he cannot read the words.  It is hard watching him try to write his alphabet and even when you think he's got it, the p turns into a b again and the Z is backwards.  Sound a word out?  Not when your brain reads cat as tac and you have a terrible time blending sounds together to make a word.

One of my biggest goals is not to frustrate him so he will hate to read.  We are a family of readers and love books in our house!  I read a lot to my children starting before they are born and keep them surrounded by great books.

There is help for the struggling reader.  It is different for everyone, but this is what is working right now for my almost 8 year old son.

  • Read aloud-a lot! All of our Science, Bible, History is done together and is read aloud.  Instead of doing written questions/quizzes, we do questions and answers as a group and also do a lot of narration.
  • Audio books allow Alex to enjoy stories above his reading level even when I am not reading aloud.  I bought an inexpensive (around $12) mp3 player from www.walmart.com and we download books from www.bookshouldbefree.com for him to listen to.
  • The Reading Kingdom.-  This online reading program has been working wonders for Alex!  It makes words make sense to him and has made a huge difference in his reading!  You can find my complete review on it here.
  • All About Spelling- This easy to use program teaches spelling rules and uses letter tiles for the children to build words with their hands.  Building the words makes them more concrete and makes it make more sense. (the link in this post is my affiliate link.) 
I am adding an update to this post because it still is a widely searched topic that homeschool parents are looking for solutions on.  I posted this in 2011.  The then struggling reader is now 13 years old and reads all of the time!  I have two more boys who struggled in their reading and are doing much better, a little girl that is an amazing reader, and another little girl who is just starting to read.  My absolute favorite reading program that I have seen the most success with has been All About Reading.  It is a multi sensory program that suits a wide range of learners and children can move at their own pace.  It works for struggling readers and for other readers too.  I have used all 4 levels of this program.  My children love the stories and it has given them the skills and confidence that they need to improve their reading.

If yo have a struggling reader, give it time.  Not everyone reads at the same pace or the same age.  My boys did not read well until they passed the age of 10.  
It is possible to help a struggling reader!  It is also ok to admit that you are struggling with a struggling reader!  If any of my readers are struggling with a struggling reader, I'd love it if you would leave a comment telling us what works or doesn't work for your struggling reader!

Disclaimer: Links to All About Reading and Spelling are my affiliate links.  I only form affiliate relationships with companies whose products I actually use and can recommend!
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