7 ways to Help Struggling Readers


I used to teach struggling readers in small groups in many schools up and down the UK. The one thing I noticed was that every struggling reader responded to PRAISE.It is so easy to say what is not right about their reading but the fact that they are progressing just by being determined to read is a positive step. Ensure that you read with a struggling reader little and often as their confidence often dips while they try to read fluently and accurately. Ensure also that their reading attempts are enjoyable and fun occasions with plenty of laughs!

Another useful strategy is to CATCH THEIR EYE. Face to face contact is so priceless, even cupping their chin (If laws allow of course!) so that you can talk to them intimately. When eyes engage between two people, what is said becomes personal and that is what struggling readers need to know. They need to be aware that the person teaching them cares for them and is right behind them in their efforts to read.Thanking them for reading to you (and saying the specifics of how well they have done) is a polite step of recognition of their efforts.

HAVE PLENTY OF LIGHT and FRESH AIR in a room where struggling readers are working/reading. They need to be able to see charts and reading books clearly and be able to relax in a bright and pleasant atmosphere with beautiful decor around them if at all possible. Even being outside near a lovely flowering/smelling plant may just help them to relax and enjoy their reading attempts and experience..

GIVE THEM LOTS OF WATER TO DRINK and ENCOURAGE THE EATING OF SUPERFOODS  e.g sunflower seeds, nuts, fruit of any kind, beetroot and broccolli – to mention a few. These are all good brain foods – (as long as it doesn’t mean trips to the loo become necessary or an excuse to not have a go at reading in a given day).

ENTHUSE ABOUT READING. Have magazines and comics and lovely bright interesting books at hand to show them the wonders of a whole new world of learning that reading produces for them. Provide simple reading books which have the content that appeals to a particular child. Give gifts of small books when they have reached a certain target – I used to give my struggling children simple Bible based books and then when they became fluent at reading ( with a reading age of 9+ – when they could if they wished read the ‘Daily Mirror’ newspaper) I would give them a gospel from the Good News Bible for them to attempt and enjoy and copy the lined pictures! I remember hearing a testimony of Don Double who became an evangelist. He was an illiterate farmhand when he became a Christian and then God taught him how to read by picking up the Bible.

DOUBLE CHECK THAT HEARING AND SIGHT ARE INTACT and PUPILS GETTING AT LEAST 8 HOURS SLEEP A NIGHT. Glasses may need to be cleaned or changed and hearing aids may need updating. Maybe new bedtime habits need to be developed. Also, talking face to face helps with communication.

Above all, PRAY for your struggling readers. God is for us and wants the best for us and can enable struggling readers to succeed. Nothing is impossible with God (see Luke 1 and 2 in the Bible) and, as He made and knows our struggling readers, He is well able to teach us the best teaching methods to use to help them on their journey to succeed in this wonderful adventure of reading.