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7 Tips for Parents: Take Action When Your Child is Struggling with Reading

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We know how upsetting and stressful it is to watch your child struggle with reading. Having a plan can help. If you are a parent feeling helpless, this list is for you.   Being informed and teaming with your child’s teachers can make all the difference.  Follow these 7 steps, and let us know how we can help!   

1.  Get informed.  Ask your child’s teacher for all the information possible.  Get your child’s assessment data.  Ask for a list of strengths and weaknesses. 

2.  Dyslexia Screening. Dyslexia is the most common reading disorder.  10-20% of the population is affected by dyslexia.  Get a check list or use an online tool to see if your child is experiencing symptoms of dyslexia. Research what it is and how dyslexics learn differently.  Make sure your child hears the positive messaging surrounding dyslexia.

3.  Ask questions.  Find out what kind of reading intervention your child is receiving.  What is the name of the program that is being used in the classroom and in the intervention setting? How often is your child receiving instruction? What is the progress monitoring plan?

4.  Talk to a qualified reading specialist and make a plan. Within your school or community, there are people qualified to intervene in reading difficulties.  Take the list of strengths and weaknesses, the reading intervention plan, and your data to the specialist.  Together, determine if there is appropriate and sufficient intervention taking place.

5.  Ask what you can do at home. Once the  root cause of the reading deficit is determined, there are lots of fun and engaging ways that you can reinforce missing skills at home.  Students who struggle need 40+ experiences with new concepts.  This should not be daunting or feel like more homework. It should be game-oriented and light-hearted.  Often the root cause of reading issues have to do with oral language and phonological awareness (the sounds of language). There are fun ways to reinforce these skills.  Don’t add additional pressure to your fatigued student.

6.  Monitor Progress. Teachers make 6-week intervention goals and monitor progress to see if those interventions are working.  Ask about this.  Also, understand that there is no quick fix or magic potion.  Reading intervention takes time.  However, small progress should be seen.  It is a baby step race, but make sure baby steps are being gained. If not, make a new intervention plan.  Does your child need more time, intensity, or a different intervention? 

7.  Make reading enjoyable again. Most kids start with an enthusiasm for reading and books.  However, after years of struggling, nothing about it is enjoyable.  Bring back the pleasure of a good story.  Read aloud to your child even if they are older!  Make it pressure free!  Let them listen to audio books.  Let them buy or check out books they are interested in even if they don’t seem to be on their level or academic enough.  Several reading skills can be gained by simply engaging in literacy.  The pleasure of reading can be reignited!

Here are some of our favorite literacy resources to help you feel informed and inspired.  

Hard Words  Why aren’t kids being taught to read?  This is an article (or podcast) that explains the history of reading instruction and why schools are just now starting to understand the science of reading.  Check it out here

Attend a Dyslexia Simulation. Get insight into what it feels like to have a reading disability.  You will walk away with a new understanding and level of compassion. Get this experience at a Reading Rev conference or check out Fort Collins Reading Council for the next available local simulation.               Check it out here

Understand what kind of reading instruction your child needs. This is a brief description of Orton Gillingham, an approach that benefits all kids, but is vital to kids with reading disabilities.  Check it out here

Understand your state government’s policy around reading remediation. States are taking this seriously and new laws are being passed to ensure kids are learning to read by 3rd grade.  Find info on the Colorado Read Act.  Check it out here

Tiers of Reading Instruction.  Meeting the needs of all students. Check it out here

Watch Sally Shaywitz, Yale professor and author of Overcoming Dyslexia,  explain this common reading disorder. Check it out here

Our Dyslexic Kids.  Watch the 2020 motion picture about a group of parents willing to advocate for their dyslexic kids. Check it out here

This is the ultimate guide of all things reading for parents. Check it out here

Language Play!  One of the best things you can do for your child is enriching their overall language.  Having a rich language base will help build your child’s vocabulary and comprehension.  This should not replace systematic sound/word level instruction, but it will support comprehension as your child begins to read. Check it out here

Attend a Reading Rev conference! Understanding, teaching, and assessing the 5 Components of Reading is imperative. And, not just in the primary years! Check it out here

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