How to help kids with reading at home

ByGretchen 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. 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 organizerPDF

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About the author

About the author

Gretchen Vierstra, MA is the managing editor at Understood and co-host of the “In It” podcast. She’s a former educator with experience teaching and designing programs in schools, organizations, and online learning spaces.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Bob Cunningham, EdM serves as executive director of learning development at Understood.