Making reading a little more fun for your struggling reader

jude reading

Reading is one of my least favorite subjects to teach. It is painful listening to kids slowly sounding out their words. I am now teaching 2 of my boys to read at the same time. Please pray for my sanity!

One of my boys is really struggling with his reading. He has a hard time focusing and he gets frustrated very quickly. We are plugging along but I have recently incorporated a few things that help him stay motivated and enjoy his reading lessons a bit more.

Keep lessons short, but consistent

Instead of trying to finish a lesson in one seating, I break it up throughout the day so that we end each part with him feeling successful and not frustrated. The amount of time a lesson lasts varies from child to child, and in our case even from day-to-day. Most days, our lessons for my newly 6-year-old lasts about 15 minutes. Any longer and he starts getting tired and frustrated. A 7-minute lesson twice a day is a good option. The key is that we do our reading everyday. It is not a subject we skip, even on days we don’t do school — I try to at least review the word cards with him.

Allow for sensory input

My son Judah likes to use a weighted blanket while he is reading me a story. I have noticed that it really does help him to focus. I recently found this tutorial for a weighted belt.

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When we are sitting at the table working, I typically let him hold Silly Putty or play dough. Having something to squeeze also helps him focus better while we work though a lesson.

Cut the reading into smaller chunks

Reading a story with more than a sentence or two overwhelms my son. My husband recommended cutting apart his story into smaller pieces to make it more manageable, and while I haven’t taken apart any of his books, I do cut apart the fluency sheets that come with his reading program. Reading the sentence strips are so much more fun for him than reading through a full sheet of paper.

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After he reads a line on his sentence strips, I allow him to highlight it. Highlighting is his favorite part, and it helps him see what he has accomplished.

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Use a timer

At the beginning of every reading lesson, we review our sight word cards, and any other cards that need reviewed. Because Judah struggles with his reading, we could spend all of our time just reviewing cards. Instead, we set a timer for 2 minutes and see how many he can read in that amount of time. He loves trying to read as many cards as he can, knowing that the timer will beep pretty quickly.

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Take turns reading

I take turns reading with Judah when the stories are too long for him or when he begins to get tired. He reads a page, I read a page. It helps keep his interest, and knowing a break is coming helps with his motivation.

He recently started reading Elephant & Piggie books, and we each pick a character to read. He almost always chooses Piggie.

Use creative pointers

I wrote about using creative pointers before but want to connect it to this post because my kids love using different kinds of pointers to help them sound out words.

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In case anyone is looking for a reading program, we use All About Reading. I recommend it to people all the time. I love that it takes very little preparation from me and that it is completely multi-sensory. My kids would tell you they love the games and activities that come with each lesson.

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