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Tips For Struggling Readers

TheHomeSchoolMom: Tips for Struggling Readers

  • Reading the words from left to right can be a difficult task for struggling readers. Often the words appear to move around or the space between words us unclear. It helps to use a finger or a card underneath the words to help your eyes “track” and focus on each word and letter you are sounding out. This will train your eyes to focus on the word you are reading instead of skipping around looking for other clues to simply guess at the word.
  • Those who struggle with reading often have many amazing strengths such as building things, putting puzzles together, abilities in art, drama, music, and they are very creative. Make sure to focus on those strengths and allow them experiences and success in those areas.
  • In order for someone to improve fluency, reading must become automatic. This happens when they are able to see the word and quickly identify the patterns and sounds. This can be accomplished by teaching the person the patterns of English (Five Phonetic Skills) and how these patterns affect the vowels; the more they work with these patterns they will develop this automatic orthographic reading ability and their fluency will increase.
  • When you approach a word you do not know it helps to look through it, identify the vowels and decide what they are saying before you sound out the word (this helps if you know the phonetic skills to prove the vowels). Once you know the vowel sounds you have the hardest part done! Then sound out the word from the beginning all the way to the end without stopping or guessing a couple of times and you will get it! (Taken from the Dennis Davis Reading Method © 2006)
  • One of the best comprehension strategies is to make a connection with what you are reading. Can you relate to any of the characters or the story? If you make a connection to yourself it is called text-to-self connection; if you make a connection from the story you are reading to another story you have read it is called text-to-text connection; and if you make a connection to something you have seen on the news or an experience someone you know has had it is called text-to-world connection. The more connections you make the better you will remember and comprehend the story.
  • Asking questions is another great reading comprehension strategy. If you ask questions about what is happening in the story, a character’s feelings, or wonder what will happen next, you will be engaged in your reading and that will help you understand on a deeper level.
  • When you’re sounding out a word and you are having a hard time, check to see if there are any “C’s” or “G’s” followed by an “i” or an “e”. Remember that those vowels change the sound of “c” and “g” to their soft sound as in the words city, cent, gentle, and giraffe. (Taken from the Dennis Davis Reading Method © 2006)
  • If your child recognizes a word on one line and not on another, this could be an indication of a phonological weakness known as dyslexia. The best thing to do is observe your child and see if this is a pattern that happens often when he reads. Be patient. It is just as frustrating for them that they don’t recognize the word as it is for you. Help them sound it out and look for the vowel sound(s) and patterns in the word. Remember, someone who has dyslexia must see a correct representation of the word almost 30 times more than the average reader in order for it to be stored into long-term memory!
  • Remember, when you or your child encounters a new word to look up the meaning of that word. If you attach meaning then you are more likely to remember it and be able to decode it. After you decode the word practice writing it and using it in a sentence.

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Shantell Berrett has a B.A. in English specializing in reading and dyslexia.  She has three wonderful kids ages 13, 11, and 7.  Her 11 year old son has dyslexia and is the reason she works in this field in writing, research and educating in schools and at home. Visit her website at


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