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What to Do When Your Child Won't Learn to Read

Nov 30, 2007
There are kids who can't wait to understand what the squiggles in a book say, they realize that they are like a code that has to be broken, and once they understand the code an entire world will open up to them. Then there are kids for whom reading is nothing more than a lot of hard work and they don't have any inclination to put in extra study in order to acquire a skill in reading faster.

Of course there are some of these children who do have a problem with words -- such as those with dyslexia, but for the main part reluctant readers are just children who prefer to deal with a visual world rather than one of words.

As a parent this can be frustrating. You realize that reading is a key to not only education, but also to life in general. The reading skills your child learns now will help him get through his day-to-day activities. Explaining this and encouraging your child to actively take part in reading things that aren't in books is one way of overcoming their reluctance to read.

When you are out and about, look at signs and work with your child to understand what they say. Words are everywhere and helping your child to realize this, and to discover that if they can read they will be able to understand what signs and foods say. Even the TV guide can be a good starting point as they'll be able to read when their favorite shows are airing!

One of the stumbling blocks to this is where there are visual illustrations that help your child understand what the words say -- for example on food packets and toys. But even so, toys often have instructions that require to be read, and if you work with your child to read these rather than just tell him what they say, you're encouraging him to read himself.

Make sure that the instructions are simple however before sitting down with your child to read them, some of them can be confusing even for an adult! One source of easy reading material is in boxes of baking mixes, such as those that make cookies or muffins. These usually have only 4 or 5 steps to complete the baking and each step little more than one sentence.

If you buy a set that is connected to some merchandising campaign such as a Disney movie or TV show that your child enjoys, you'll find that they are more interested in reading the instructions because they want to see the finished items.

Reading to your child has both advantages and disadvantages. On one hand you are showing your child how exciting it is to be able to read and if they can read themselves they can read a lot more each evening, but on the other hand, you are doing the reading and all they have to do is listen to get the same story. One way to help with this is to have your child read one page per night, and you read the rest, but make sure that you read a book at beginner's level so that you are helping them realize that they can do this.

Leading by example will also encourage your child to read. If you read, and your child sees you reading, then they will be more interested to learn. Even reading magazines is a great way of piquing your child's interest as you can say "Listen to what it says here." And then tell them something from the magazine that they will be interested in -- such as a new movie being released that they will like.

Reading is one of the most important skills your child will learn, and if they have no challenges to their reading ability other than a disinterest in the learning process, spending the time to get them excited about it can be one of the most precious gifts you can give them.
About the Author
Jane Saeman runs an In-Home Tutoring service called Aim High Tutors. Find out about how to help your student reach their full potential at http://www.aimhightutors.com/blog
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