10 Tips for Parents of Struggling Readers
(Part 2 of a 2-Part Series)
In Part 1 of this 2-Part article, we discussed the first four of ten tips for parents of struggling readers. In this article, we will tackle the remaining tips.
As a refresher, we have looked at the following recommendations:
2.Become the expert. (Be sure to visit the websites that are listed in this article!)
3. Don’t panic
4. Advocate for your child – while teaching them to advocate for themselves
What else can we do as parents to help our children who struggle to read?
Allow your child to participate in a fun activity
It is important to recognize that a struggling reader must work much harder than the typical student. In fact, all in-class work as well as outside homework demands a level of effort that borders on Herculean. Truly, this is not an exaggeration! Therefore, it is imperative that struggling readers have an outlet. This outlet can be a sport, regular downtime playing with a friend or sibling, a music class, an art or theater program, or even time building with Legos. Whatever the activity, it is critical that parents allow their child to spend time doing something they enjoy. This allows the child to release the stress they feel from the constant effort they must expend. In addition, it typically allows the child to feel a level of success (through sports or art or Lego building) that they may not feel with their school work.
Add classical music to your daily routine
Another thing parents can do to help a struggling reader is to listen to classical music on a regular basis. Emerging studies now indicate the remarkable brain benefits that come from listening to classical music. Although this can include a formal music program (such as piano lessons or Suzuki violin lessons), it doesn’t have to be structured. Listening to classical music even ten minutes each day can be of benefit to the child.
7. Look into available technology
In Tip #2, we discussed the importance of becoming the expert. One exciting area for parents to research is that of assistive technology. The technology now available to help struggling readers is limitless. Scheduling a meeting with a director of assistive technology can be a great way to begin learning about the tools that are available. Whether a child simply needs access to audio books, or they need apps, note taking devices, and voice to text technology, help is available. Each child, however, has unique needs and preferences. Furthermore, as the child advances throughout school, their needs and preferences will change. Learning what is available now, with an eye to your child’s next step, is important.
8. Keep records
Next, keep records. It is a good idea to have a folder in which you keep any testing documentation, details regarding accommodations received, notes from teachers, details regarding tutoring along with updates from tutors, as well as any additional learning or health issues. Many high schools offer accommodations to students with learning challenges. Likewise, students can receive accommodations for standardized and college entrance exams. And, more and more colleges and universities are granting accommodations to students who learn differently. However, the common requirement, in every case, is the need for documentation. The more documentation you can provide, the easier the process will be to obtain the necessary accommodations for your struggling reader. Begin gathering that documentation now!
9. Guard your time
The ninth tip for parents of a struggling reader is to guard your time. You may need to limit the number of outside activities in which you participate. In addition, you may need to limit the number of outside activities in which your struggling reader participates. The reality is that struggling readers simply need more help and more time to complete homework. Therefore, it is best to accept this reality, and make certain that time is available. In truth, the child may already feel anxiety due to the struggles they encounter with their school work. Don’t add to this anxiety by overscheduling the child or yourself. Make certain you are available to help and encourage them. And, make certain your child has the time they need to complete their work without the pressure of feeling rushed.
10. Celebrate the successes!
Finally, celebrate the successes, including the little ones, with your child. A struggling reader often feels like a failure. The irony is that most dyslexics tend to have higher IQ’s than the average person. Yet, they don’t feel smarter. Therefore, find opportunities to point out something the struggling reader did well. And, these successes may come from their school work – but they can come from outside the world of academics as well! Encourage your child. Help them know that school may be a challenge, but remind them that they are intelligent, hard-working, and kind. Without question, those three characteristics are what will lead them to success in the future.
Truly, parenting a struggling reader takes tremendous effort – over many, many years. It is my hope that these ten tips will help you and your child throughout the journey.
Pamela Patnode will be speaking at the MN Catholic Home Education Conference on June 1 at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. Click this link to register for the event and attend Patnode’s presentation.