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How to help kids with reading at home

By Gretchen Vierstra, MA

At a Glance

  • Some kids need extra help and encouragement to get better at reading.

  • There are lots of ways to help kids improve reading skills at home.

  • Having reading challenges doesn’t mean a child isn’t smart.

Learning to read is a process. Some kids learn quickly and easily. Others may struggle with reading and need extra help. If reading is hard for kids, there are ways to help them improve at home. 

The first step to helping kids with reading is knowing what areas need improvement. There’s a lot that goes into reading, from sounding out words to understanding what you read.

If you’re not sure what areas kids need help with, talk with the teacher. Ask about the skills kids are having difficulty with and how you can best help at home. There may be techniques teachers use in the classroom that you can try at home. One is to use kids’ senses, like touch or sound, to practice reading skills.

Sometimes kids might also need extra encouragement. Start by explaining that everyone has challenges and strengths. Then give kids specific praise for working hard at reading. ayudarse. And let kids know that their skills will keep improving over time.

There are many low-cost tools that can help kids with reading. Graphic organizers can help kids keep track of their thoughts when reading. For example, kids can use this graphic organizer to help them keep track of the elements of a story. 

Story Elements Graphic Organizer

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Dive deeper

How to find the right reading materials

The right materials can make reading at home more fun. You can reduce frustration by having kids read books at their reading level (rather than at their grade level) and about their interests. Also, give kids choices about what to read. Remember that traditional books aren’t the only way to improve reading skills.

Learn more about how to choose books at the right level . And let kids explore other options like graphic novels, comic books, or blogs

Whisper reading

Whisper reading is a strategy you use at home to build reading skills. Instead of reading out loud or silently, kids read in a whisper voice.

Start by having kids read silently. Then, occasionally ask kids to whisper read to you. This allows you to check on progress and provide support as needed. 

Kids can also try using a whisper phone (sometimes called a phonics phone). Kids hold one end of the phone up to their ear and whisper read into the other end. The phone amplifies the sound, so kids can more clearly hear the sounds and words they’re saying. 

Whisper reading can help kids become more fluent readers and build their confidence in reading aloud. Learn more about whisper reading and how to make a whisper phone

Assistive technology

Assistive technology (AT) can help kids practice reading skills at home. There’s a wide range of tools kids can use for reading, including audiobooks and text-to-speech (TTS). 

Audiobooks let kids hear the book being reading aloud. TTS lets kids see text and hear text read aloud at the same time. Both tools can motivate struggling readers. 

AT tools for reading are inexpensive and easy to find. Learn more about the different types of AT tools for reading . Don’t forget about low-tech options, too, like graphic organizers

How schools can help

Schools can help kids with reading in lots of ways. Schools should provide reading instruction that’s designed for struggling readers. Also, a school’s reading specialist can work with kids who need extra help learning to read. 

There are formal supports, called accommodations, that can help, too. To get this type of help from the school, kids need to be evaluated. A free school evaluation can tell exactly what a child is struggling with. Then teachers and families can give the right type of support. 

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  • Coming soonGoogle Classroom