10 Tips to Help Your Struggling Reader

Do you have a struggling reader? Whether you’re teaching a young child to read or helping a middle-schooler or even a high-schooler who has reading difficulties, it can be very stressful for both mom/teacher and child/student to deal with reading problems. There are things you can do to help lessen the stress and to help your struggling reader. I’ll list some things to try, and I would love to hear more tips and ideas from those of you who have suggestions for the rest of us!


HHM Struggling Reader Post

1. First of all, make sure your child is ready to learn to read. Sometimes we get so excited about homeschooling and teaching our children that we simply start doing formal schooling earlier than we should. Next week I will be posting on how to know when your child is ready to learn to read.

2. Read aloud to that child…often!

3. Set realistic goals! If you need to set smaller, more realistic goals, do it. If you set goals that take weeks to reach, you and your child will get discouraged.

4. Tell your child the goal each day. Before you begin the day’s reading lesson, tell your child the goal that she’s working toward. After the lesson each day, be sure to point out progress she made toward that goal.

5. Don’t try to force your child to read faster. If your child reads slowly, don’t try to get him to read faster. Speed will come with time and practice.

6. Use lots and lots of repetition. If your child struggles with reading, you may need to have him practice the same words or stories over and over and over. It’s ok. Repetition helps to “cement” the information in his mind. Try to keep it fun, though, so he doesn’t get bored.

7. Teach/practice short vowels first. After your child learns short vowels and 1-syllable words and can read them easily, then you can move on to long vowels. Most phonics programs do this for you, but it is something to keep in mind if you supplement or come up with your own practice words and sentences.

8. Use a multi-sensory approach. Make sure you allow your child to use all of here senses when she’s learning to read. Some children learn best by seeing, some by hearing, some by touching things or doing things. Using a multi-sensory approach allows your child to use different senses, and that often increases learning and makes it more fun too!

9. Try to find books that interest your child. If your struggling reader isn’t interested in the books or sentences you use in his instruction, he’s just not going to be very motivated to want to learn to read. Try to find books about topics that he particularly enjoys.

10. Start out easy. It’s often best to begin with a book that is below your child’s current reading level. That allows her to have some success with reading. Then slowly progress to more difficult books. By doing this, she will be more motivated to learn to read, and motivation can make a big difference!

Do you have any tips for those who are teaching struggling readers? If so, please share them here! We would love to hear from you!

Photo credit: www.freedigitalphotos.net  stockimages Stock Photo – image ID: 100155111

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HHM co-owner and owner/writer at Homeschooling Blessings
Wendy lives in the South with her husband, Scott, and 3 children. She is a Christian, homeschooling, work-from-home mom. She is involved in her local church, is co-owner of the Hip Homeschool Moms website, and she teaches Training for Warriors classes at her local gym, Everwine Fitness. She and Scott were high school sweethearts and have been married for 25 years. Her oldest child, Hannah, is now age 20. She has autism, and Wendy began homeschooling her at age 2. Her son, Noah, is now age 19 and is the second homeschool graduate in the family. Her youngest child is Mary Grace, age 13, who is a social butterfly and ballerina. Wendy loves reading, eating gluten free, and working out.


  1. Albert Engel says:

    Great tips! I totally agree that you should not speeding your child up when they read. It can make the whole process really frustrating and give reading negative connotations for them.

    Also finding interesting material for your child to read is very important.

  2. I really love the Bob Books. When my child can read a book, we write their name and the date, and ……..can read this book. I also write the words on a post it, and have my child read the words with out the pictures. My oldest is dyslexic, so she struggle quite a bit. We just kept the faith, I would have to quit when frustration set in. Do not let not being able to read, delay learning. I read all of her other work to her, till she was able to get it on her own. In order to get her to try a chapter book, I bribed her with a kindle. If she would read a chapter book, I would buy her a kindle. It worked, but she has devoured the Harry Potter books, and stays up too late reading. It makes me so happy to see her read and enjoy it.

  3. Yes, I had a struggling reader. I am a reading teacher turned homeschool Mom. I know how to teach reading so I never imagined I would have a struggling reader. God knows how to keep life interesting!

    I agree, age does not mean a child is ready to read. I stayed VERY positive with my son and took it slow. He NEVER knew he as a “struggling reader.” About age 8 things began to click. By age 9 he was reading independently with ease. He absolutely loves reading because it was never a chore or negative. He is an avid reader now, having just turned 10.

    I like your tips . . . Yes, read aloud EVERY day. Allow a child to read simple books at first. Find books and topics that interest the child!

    If you have a struggling reader, I encourage you to hang in there and keep it positive.

    http://waddleeahchaa.com/2012/09/04/how-to-turn-a-struggling-reader-into-an-avid-reader-10-book-giveaway/ (sorry the giveaway is over but all of the tips are still posted)

    • Jeannine, I think it’s great that your son never knew he was a struggling reader and that he loves to read now! I agree that he probably loves reading now because you never allowed the process to be seen as negative. I think so many of us get anxious and worried when our kids take a little longer than others to learn to read until our kiddos pick up on that and start to think of reading as being negative and stressful. Hooray for you and the great job you’re doing!

  4. These are great tips for helping kids really engage with reading. I think you’ll also find this infographic helpful – it shares 7 tips for parents to help struggling readers: https://cehdvision2020.umn.edu/cehd-blog/tips-to-help-struggling-readers/
    -Dean Jean Quam, University of Minnesota – College of Education & Human Development

    • Thank you for your comment! I read the tips at the link you provided, and I especially liked #5 about making real world connections with the child’s reading. When I was teaching my son writing skills (how to correctly format a letter, how to indent, how to make sure his verb tense didn’t change in the middle of a paragraph or sentence, etc.), it made a huge difference with him when I had him write a letter to a video game company and write to a pen pal. Because he saw that writing was a skill he would need throughout his life, it made sense to him to learn to do it well. I think the same thing applies to reading. If the child sees it as something fun, helpful, and important, he will be much more likely to want to learn to read and to enjoy it! Thank you for sharing those tips with us!

  5. Great suggestions! We will share with our facebook, google+ and twitter followers at Sight and Sound Reading! (http://www.sightandsoundreading.com).

    The biggest thing we believe, with teaching reading, is helping your reader gain confidence. Confidence goes along way -a confident reader is an eager reader who loves reading! You can either gain confidence through teaching phonics/3 letter words -OR, we actually suggest starting with sight words – and letting the words gain sentences day by day… as the student sees they can read -they begin to love reading. If you have a struggling reader, it is okay to start with the basics so they can gain confidence… start with what the student knows -and go from there. Good luck!

  6. Great advice/tips! Patience is a MUST!
    Our youngest has a hard time with reading. We actually started over with simple phonics at the kindergarten level. He is in second grade but was revealed to see words he knew and could read on his own. We started this back in July and he have already progressed through the beginner level. He is enjoying reading more and his confidence has soared. He is well on his way to getting “up to speed”.
    Keep your great articles and posts flowing. We all appreciate them.

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