You might be wondering why your 8-year-old struggles with reading or even why your fifteen-year-old struggles with reading. Unlocking the abilities of your child’s reading abilities can provide the vast potential and experiences so that he or she can navigate this world. Children need to have the foundational skills of word acquisition, word meaning, reading speeding and pace, understanding, and word structure.
Reading is a complex skill, and if he or she does not have a general interest, below are some tips to consider.
A child who chooses not to read has a reason why. If they are old enough ask: Why don’t you read? What do you like or dislike? What is your favorite thing(s) to do besides reading? This inventory should take 5-15 minutes at a minimum so you can gather stories, experiences, and hear key problems.
At the heart of every challenge, there is a core issue and I encourage you or a mentor to dig deep. Also asking about their interests will give you the tools to better understand their learning styles and interests. So if your reader says, “I love playing soccer.” “I love making graphics for Instagram.” “I love being outside.” You can now pinpoint, a soccer player loves movement and is kinesthetics, a social media child loves visuals and technology, and an outdoor kid might love adventure and has a knack for spatial intelligence. You can learn more here about the 8 different learning styles.
B. Find a mentor
Finding a mentor who can hold your reader accountable, checking- in consistently, and sharing their own experiences can be a critical shift. A mentor can bring real-world importance to the importance of reading and how it affects their lives day-to-day. I know that children sometimes lose interest in always hearing their parents “preach” to them. If you do not know where to find a mentor, search for mentoring programs, ask a colleague, ask for a referral from a friend or family member. Believe it or not, adults want to help our youth, and matching your reader with a mentor is possible.
C. Make Reading Realistic
Children go through a variety of developmental stages.
An example about an eleven to fourteen-year-old:
What I’m Like: I’m more independent than I used to be, but I’m quite self-conscious. I think more like an adult, but there’s no simple answer. I like to talk about issues in the adult world. I like to think for myself, and though I often feel confused, my opinions are important to me, and I want others to respect them. I seem to be moving away from my family. Friends are more important than ever. To have them like me, I sometimes act in ways that adults disapprove of. But I still need reasonable rules set by adults. However, I’m more understanding and cooperative. I want nothing to do with babysitters—in fact, if I’m mature enough I can often be by myself or watch others.” You can find more about their Stages Description Here.
When your child hits the preteen stage, then their ideas of realism are stronger than before. The best way to make their experiences, “REAL.” Is by identifying the core reasons why your reader does not read. Examples
- Read teen or child magazines-talk about key points
- Read a series of books that fits their interests.
- If the booklist is realistic with topics on space, history, technology, and etc, extend that experience to take them to the place, write to the author or an expert, or a virtual visit.
- Find books where your reader can learn a new skill. Ask them something they would like to do in ??? months. If determined these could be books on sewing, coding, sign language, and this way you could see how they are implementing this vocation and reading.
- Make a blog, podcast, or private channel in TikTok or YouTube
- Join a book club or start a book club
- 1:1 if your reader “HATES” reading, I always encourage parents for every 1 book that YOU like, you will read an ACADEMIC text that is required by your school. Starting off will be painful, but it can work.
- Of course, read with your child. Take dedicated time where you read your text and your child reads his or her own text.
D. Focus on Skill
In the 21st century, learning has taken a new approach. Learning is less about the retention of large amounts of facts and datasets. Learning is about manipulating and utilizing those data sets. As you encourage your child to read they can focus on skills such as vocabulary skills, comprehension skills, fluency skills, phonics skills, and writing skills. Each skill has a unique pathway and keeping this in place. Learning is also about collaboration, and communication to solve future problems in the world they will live in.
E. Read Consistently
Reading should not be a serendipitous task. Reading should be something in your home that occurs on expected days. It can be different where reading is before TV time. Examples: Reading happens 30 minutes after social media check-ins. Reading occurs while eating breakfast. Read while driving in the car or on a bus, and “parent or guardian” will ask a question before leaving the vehicle. There are many opportunities to carve out that time. As a working parent make reading work the best for you. Reading should not be a chore, it should be an integrated experience that makes your household interesting.
F. Learn a New Language
Learning a new language might be difficult. However, learning a new language gives your reader the skills to compare “cognates,” “word structures,” “word orders,” “phrases” and more. Learning a new language takes years and immersive with others who speak the language. However, if your reader is interested in traveling or meeting other people you can use this new learning as a way to keep them engaged with their native language. It will be especially important to make sure there is a balance between reading the foreign language and reading their native language text.
For example, I have learned American Sign Language. And ASL has a different structure.
Where are you going?
Reading this sentence alone made me think about how they order and change their sentences around.
G. Learn Storytelling or Spoken Word
There are thousands of storytelling and spoken word opportunities for young adults and teens. Storytellers must have the skill of reading, writing, and speaking. There are even a host of competitions that young people can compete for with original spoken art. In your local community, you should look up different groups, but you can find more here at the National Storytelling Network
Reading has opportunities, and it will take time to discover what those key opportunities are. Above are a few tips that we are excited to share with you. Feel free to contact us with additional questions.