It’s hard to imagine when your child is struggling that they’ll ever grow to love reading. I’m pretty sure I’d reject reading as a pastime too if I had to work so hard to decode the words, and then understand what was being written.
The key to reading remediation is not just about learning phonemes, graphemes, grammar, and root words. It’s about comprehension, enjoyment, and the desire to gain independence. That’s pretty hard to achieve when a nine year old is restricted to reading books well below their age level, as their peers are speeding ahead.
How do you help a learner who has fallen behind, and has a low level of confidence and self esteem? How do you help them keep up with their peers in terms of vocabulary development, ideas, and group discussions about reading? In short, you get them reading remediation AND do a lot of reading for them. Here are some ways to get in the mileage:
Read to them every day if you can. Cover a wide range of fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels or magazines. Read anything they express an interest in, even it feels like you are stabbing yourself in the eye with a hot knife…(and it frequently does feel that way when it comes to little boys toilet humour!) And after each chapter or section, chat about what happened, what they think will happen next, why they think people did what they did, and so on.
Once your voice has worn out, visit your local library for Audio Books. Many of them have a CD with the copy of the book, so your reader can scan along as the narrator speaks. If your library doesn’t have a great range, they can easily be ordered from the Council Library portal.
We subscribe to audible.com.au. It costs $15 per month to receive a credit for one book, and you can buy further credits if you need them. Audio books are lifesavers for long car journeys, and a great way to build reading stamina.
Invest in some text to speech technology for your computer. Read&Write for Google Chrome reads aloud words, websites, passages, or whole documents and has easy-to-follow highlighting so your child can read along too. It’s available on a 30 day free trial, and then costs US$100 per user license if you want to continue.
And when their reading starts to develop, there are a few other things to know:
Try taking a favourite book and split the reading between you. If they already know the story, they will have greater confidence. And if you split the reading - just a few pages at a time each - they will get less fatigue and remember it as a good experience.
If you have access to a tablet, try using a kindle app for reading. You can enlarge the text, increase the spacing, and use low contrast screen colours such as sepia to help with reading.
There is a publisher called Barrington Stoke who prints books in a dyslexia-friendly format. The pages are yellow, the font is easy to read, and the lines are well spaced to aid with tracking. They've also recently launched an app called Tints. It provides on-screen dyslexia-friendly fiction written by best selling authors for kids aged 8 to teen, at reading ages 7 and 8. The app uses their easy to read layout, plus a range of coloured page tints and a sliding ruler for further reading support.