The ability to read is a critical skill for students of all ages. Fields like foreign language, history, and literature draw on an individual’s reading ability in obvious ways, but even subjects like hard science (e.g. chemistry) require skill in this area. A strong foundation in reading is thus critical, but what if your child struggles with it? What if she claims to hate reading?
First, avoid the urge to panic. Difficulty with reading is not uncommon, and there are steps you can take to help your student kindle her love of the written word. The three suggestions below, for example, can be a great place to start for many families:
1. Create a home that embraces reading
Whether you choose to open a physical book or to select a promising title from a mobile device, demonstrating your own interest in reading can have a positive effect on your child. Consider your home—how can you embrace reading in this space? Can you place a bookshelf in a prominent location, and then stock it with selections for you and your student? Can you designate a daily “reading hour” (or a “reading half hour” for younger children), and then make it special in some way? Perhaps you and your student can brew a cup of hot chocolate to accompany your reading, or you can outfit a reading corner with comfortable seating, like bean bags. In short, how can you tie the act of reading at home to a pleasurable experience?
2. Emphasize comprehension
You might also consider jointly choosing a book to read together. If your child is passionate about a particular subject, such as animals or outer space, research titles that revolve around this topic. Then, set a goal together—how many pages will you read each day? What tool (for instance, an online dictionary) will you use if your student is unfamiliar with a word? Your child can read aloud to you both and you can help her sound out challenging terms, as well as track her progress with a finger beneath the line of text. You can also ask your student questions about the characters and plot to further exercise her comprehension skills. Offer frequent praise to show her that she can succeed with reading.
3. Incorporate writing into your day-to-day activities
Reading and writing are closely linked, and practicing writing can simultaneously strengthen your child’s reading skills. As your student writes, she will build awareness of how sounds translate into specific words. If you decide to create a dedicated reading corner in your home, why not store crayons, markers, and paper there, too? The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to what your child writes—younger students may welcome the opportunity to help you label items around the house, while children who are more familiar with writing can journal about their day at school. Students can also write short stories about any subject that captures their fancy. Whatever the topic, the most important detail is to keep the act of writing light-hearted and fun.