Home Practice Ideas for the Reluctant Reader

Daily reading for young children, either for personal enjoyment or to reinforce developing reading skills, is something that parents should encourage and support. ‘Reluctant Readers’ are a curious group, as there are several reasons why a child may appear to be unwilling, or hesitant to read.

For some children, avoidance is the objective, as reading is a difficult task for them, which provides little enjoyment or sense of satisfaction. For others who have become so attuned to instant responses from their handheld devices, may lack either the interest or the patience to read.

If you have a ‘reluctant’ reader in your family, consider having your child’s sight and hearing tested to rule out any physical challenges. Reading is a combination of phonetics, developing an increasing sight word vocabulary, and confidence, which together, enables a child to follow a storyline through clues, pictures, and diagrams.

The following suggestions will help your child to develop improved fluency and an interest in reading.
Your child’s teacher can provide additional guidance, direction, and support for increased success.

• Make reading fun! Ask your child’s teacher or school librarian to recommend books with easy vocabulary on topics which are of interest to your child.

• Plan for an enjoyable reading experience. Snuggle up with your child and the reading material, perhaps including the family pet! Read together for at least 5-10 minutes; more if your child wishes to continue.

• To determine the storyline, pre-read the first sentence in each paragraph. Take turns reading alternate paragraphs. Ignore any miscues as long as there is flow and the storyline is followed.

For independent reading practice, try ‘repeat reading’ using a recording device. Ask your child to read the same paragraph several times, then listen to the recorded results. Your child will be pleasantly surprised, and become more confident, when he/she hears how his/her reading fluency improved with each reading.

An effective way to develop increased word recognition and reading fluency is by practising the Dolch 200 high frequency sight words. This list is available online; simply do a Google search. Print the words from this list on flash cards in large upper and lower case lettering. Have your child practise reading a dozen words at a time until mastery.

Organize reading activities based on a practical need or real purpose:

• Together with your child, do a Google search of your child’s favourite interests; i.e. lizards, science fiction, etc. Find books or magazines on these topics.

• Watch a television show or a movie together, with the sound on mute, and the subtitles on.

• Arrange reading practice with a purpose. Ask your child to read the baking instructions or guide you through a recipe for dinner. Check out the list of ingredients on food products.

• Plan a road trip together, using a map or Google Directions, and have your child navigate, reading the directions as you go.

• If you purchase something that requires assembly, include your child while following the step-by-step instructions.

• Organize a scavenger hunt, and together create a list of the items to be found.

• Play board games, encouraging your child to read the cards, rules, directions etc.

• Read child-friendly books with jokes and riddles, comic books, and play educational games together.

One of the best motivators to encourage reading is for parents to model this activity, and to keep a wide variety of books and reading materials around the home. When children see their parents reading for enjoyment, they will be more inclined to place a high value on reading, and can become enthusiastic readers themselves.

Linda A. Sweet M.S. Ed.
Founder and Director, Glenburnie School
Preschool to Grade 8
Providing a progressive and innovative private school education