Reading is HARD.
Let’s remember this each time our children sit down to read a book and they look up at you with the, Why do I have to do this? eyes that make your heart melt. You encourage, push them to keep going, and are positive the whole time, but sometimes the pain is greater than the payoff.
So, how do we help when reading seems to be too difficult?
- Make it fun. Make reading easier is by making it interesting. If we categorize reading as work, and painful work at that, then it is going to be a tiring, exhausting and an awful task to accomplish. But if it remains a fun, light activity that you can share, it won’t feel nearly as hard, and may even be looked forward to. Keeping it fun may mean allowing reading in different locations (kids love nooks), during different times of the day, and with different people (or stuffed animals).
- Keep it short and sweet. Reading is mentally very taxing, so for emerging and beginning readers, time spent working on reading should not be long. A great way to judge this is just by looking at your child. Are they getting wiggly? Is their attention elsewhere? If so- time to quit.
- Alternate. Take turns reading pages, paragraphs, or chapters. You can also read to them and have them jump in when they know the word. (This strategy may start slowly, but they will eventually start recognizing more and more words and want to contribute.) Reading aloud to your child will get them just as far, and better yet, it won’t burn them out.
- Read Just Right books. Independent readers can also still find reading difficult. Usually it is because they are reading something that is too hard for them. Books shouldn’t be a struggle to get through, and a book they are reading independently should not be one that “challenges them”, as much as we parents like to push our children, and as much as we like to see them pushing themselves. Helping your children read on the right level is something their classroom teacher can help you with, and something I will go into more detail on in another post, but your child should be reading with at least 95% accuracy. That means that at a minimum 95 out of every 100 words is understood and decoded properly.
Remember this. Reading really IS hard. Try to relate to your child by thinking of something that is really hard (and often frustrating) for you. Been working on that golf swing for years? Can’t get beyond 6 Across on the NY Times Crossword puzzle? Have a vendetta against the mechanical arm vending machine? Sometimes we don’t remember how hard things were because they come so naturally now. Compassion is critical here, and when our kids feel loved, understood and safe they will take risks that bring successes.