Struggling Readers in Your Home and How to Help: Part 2

Hey there mommas of struggling readers! How did you do with last week and the challenge in Struggling Readers in Your Home and How to Help: Part 1? Did you read things in front of your kids, find a way to make reading time special and pick the first book in a series to present to your kiddo? If you haven’t even started, there’s no time like the present. For everyone else, let’s jump into the next 4 steps of what I did that worked.

  • Step 4: Read with them
  • Step 5: Have patience
  • Step 6: Be consistent
  • Step 7: Screw the AR goal

lap reading

Step 4: Read with them

In my house, this is one of the components of making reading special. The opportunity to have some dedicated time with me being cozy is desireable. Go figure?!

We read together with my son reading the first and last pages of a chapter and me reading the pages in between. His pages are normally shorter and so he feels like they are less stressful.

When I was little, my mom read with me and we traded pages. She spent the time with me to read and help me get engaged with a book by Betsy Byars, Trouble River. I can still picture different scenes of that book because my mom helped me create those images with the inflections of her voice and helped me understand terms I didn’t know. I even know the comforter she had on her bed at the time the memory is so vivid!

How am I ever going to find the time for this?

I know this can be a challenge with schedules they way they probably are. You’ve got one going to ballet, another off to football and one more headed to swimming lessons. Not to mention homework to complete and dinner to get on the table. How in the world can you find the time to sit down and read?

My answer back to you is how do you get everyone where they need to be in your crazy schedule already? Did you make it a priority? Should reading for your struggling reader be the same level of a priority or maybe even higher on the scale?

My guess is that your kids over time are going to crave the reading time you give to them. It’s going to be something stored in that memory bank 30 years later and there is nothing more valuable.

Frustrated Momma

Step 5: Have Patience

Nobody gets everything right all of the time and boy does that apply to patience. During this reading together business, your patience will be tested. You are going to be frustrated. They are going to be frustrated. Just be ready for it to happen and know that it’s normal!

  • Fight the urge to finish their sentences! Literally bite your tongue if you have to in order to let them keep going. They need the chance to stumble and stutter.
  • Let them read a paragraph with all of the wrong words coming out of their mouth! You jumping in too soon creates a dependency on you to tell them when they get something wrong. They need to learn the skill of listening and comprehending what they are reading on their own.
  • Wait for them to ask for help! You are building a trust factor if you wait for them to look to you when they stumble over a word. “You are there when I need you.”
  • Don’t give up the word right away! Guide them to look at the other words that make the sentence and what would make sense to go in the blank spot where they are unsure.
  • Don’t correct everything wrong with each word they read in a paragraph! They are going to substitute a few incorrect words that don’t matter. They are going to change the tense of a word and it isn’t a big deal. If they got what the paragraph was about, move on sister.
  • Do stop them at the end of a paragraph if it made no sense whatsoever! Guide them and ask them to tell you what the paragraph was about and if it made sense to them.

Reading this you are thinking, “This process is going to take me all night!” You’re right that it will be painfully slow for you. Keep repeating for yourself that this process is so worth the pain.

You are saving your kid when they are at their desk during silent reading time on their own. They are going to hear your voice saying, “Did that last paragraph make sense to you?”

To Do

Step 6: Be consistent

Bedtime is reading time in our house. My kids know as soon as they’ve showered, brushed teeth and made lunches, they need to grab their books and read for 30 minutes before official bedtime.

Setting the rule and what needs to happen every week night helps us to avoid arguments over doing what they are supposed to do.

30 minutes, dedicated reading time, no questions asked!

How do I introduce the rule in my house?

Unleash your marketing campaign for reading! Start talking it up at dinner time. Let them know that you have a book you are excited for them to read and bring up the “special” that you have prepared for them to go along with the book.

Talk about how great you think it is that you will have 30 minutes together everyday and that you couldn’t think of a better way to spend your time.

Just like how you needed to model reading time in front of your kiddo, you need to be the one to set the tone for fun to kick this thing off right!

Funny Face

Step 7: Don’t sweat the AR goal

Being a former teacher, I’m usually on the side of the school is doing what’s best for our kiddos. I don’t disagree that Acrobat Reading (AR) is a great way to get a whole school culture involved in reading and making gains in comprehension.

So why, “Don’t sweat the AR goal?”

There can be an ugly side to AR reading goals that you are probably feeling with your struggling reader at home.

  • Sometimes goals are set as a on-size-fits-all mentality. Your child that needs an hour to read 5 pages while another child who needs 30 minutes can have the same goal.
  • The points per book are based on the reading level as well as number of pages. Your child will have to read more books if they are behind in grade level compared to their classmates.
  • There is an embarrassment factor when they kids start to share with each other what books they are reading to make their goal. Your child pulling out their thin book with big words is no fun when their neighbor has Harry Potter in their hands.

What are you saying I do here?

Be an advocate for your kid. Talk to the teacher about the goal if it matches everyone else’s. If you have a teacher that is willing to adjust the goal based on what your child can do, that’s excellent.

If adjustments aren’t made, make the AR goal a nice thing to have but not the end of the world. Getting them to enjoy the chance to sit down and read will help them achieve other goals for reading down the road. Right now, they need the foundations first.

Don’t share that you could care less if they make the AR goal that was set for them. Instead, talk about their goal at home to read for 30 minutes every night or week night. Come up with something you will do if they make their goal at home.

You can still help them look up how many AR points the book they are reading is worth so they are part of the classroom culture. This will also help you have this totally incredible moment when they get to pick a book that is on grade level and a ton of AR points down the road!!

The time for action for your struggling readers is now!

I’ve given you the steps that worked for me and they are things you can easily do in your home. You have the brainstorming session and 7-steps printable available for free to help you through this process.

My hope for you is that you give it a try and see what it can do in your home. I swear to you, worn out momma, that you are going to reach the time of crying tears of joy for your struggling readers instead of the tears of heartbreak for them you have now!


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