10 EASY WAYS TO MAKE READING FUN AT HOME AND LESS OF A STRUGGLE
Do you and your child butt heads when trying to work on reading at home? Are you left completely puzzled and with your feelings slightly hurt when your child's teacher tells you they are such a joy to have in class and such a hard worker. Then their teacher says they never complain about reading, even when it's challenging. And you are thinking WHAT? Are we talking about the same kid here?! You can't help but flashback to the tears and screaming that comes with reading at home. Are you wondering how to improve your child's reading at home while making it fun and less of a struggle? You're in luck! This blog is the answer to your problem. I have used many years of experience as a classroom teacher and a reading tutor to develop a list of solutions for parents to make reading fun at home.
Please keep reading for in-depth details about making reading more enjoyable at home for parents and children alike, and download my 5 page PDF document as a FREE gift to you!
First of All, You Are Not Alone
Most parents have the same experience and feel reading is a battle at home, whether their child is struggling with reading or not. Kids HATE for their parents to see them struggle through their reading, and if there is one person they hate getting any constructive criticism from about their reading, it's their parent. In this case, children tend to get irritable, shut down, and utterly resistant to wanting to read at home.
If you can, take it as a compliment. It turns out there is a perfect explanation for this. Your child feels comfortable with you at home because they are in their safe zone, and they are so relaxed with you that they think they can show all their emotions and maybe even take some frustration out on you.
Furthermore, all children want their parents to see them succeed. According to an article I read on Psychology Today by Laura Markham P. D. "All children fear that if they "fail" to show their parent how smart they are, their parent will stop loving them. That's much higher stakes than failing to impress their teacher. So they resist applying themselves and get belligerent. They probably couldn't articulate this, but they figure that if they don't even try, they can't fail, and you won't see that they aren't quite as smart as you'd hoped."
Markham goes on to address why children would have this fear. She states, "Because they need you so desperately, and children always worry that parents will find them lacking and stop loving them."
It sounds a little intense, but children look up to you as their parent more than anyone, and they want you to view them in a positive light. That's why I created my FREEBIE on how to improve your child's reading, all while making reading fun at home. If parents can accomplish this, there will be less anxiousness around reading, and more positive memories made, the more likely your child will be a better learner.
Sign up here to get my FREEBIE with a detailed checklist on ways to make reading fun at home and less of a struggle
Want a Sneak Peek at Some of the Details from the Freebie (5 Page PDF Document)?
Sneak Peek Tip #1:
Know Your Child's Independent Reading Level
Your child needs to read at their independent reading level at home. This is the level where they can read comfortably with very few errors. Reading at this level helps boost their comprehension, fluency, and confidence. If they try to read books that are too hard for them at home, they tend to get frustrated, develop a negative attitude towards reading, and eventually become resistant to even wanting to try to read.
If you need help placing your child at their appropriate reading level, I can do so through my FREE Reading Assessment and as part of my tutoring program when I build an individual learning plan.
Sneek Peek Tip #2:
Offer Support and Compliment Your Child
Unfortunately, with how school is structured, many students often feel inadequate because of the testing, the leveled groups they are put in, and the cookie-cutter standards they are expected to fit into. Students are often shown what they are doing wrong or ways they do not measure up. Parents need to create a supportive, fun reading environment at home.
At home, children need to feel that the most critical person in their life is proud of them, see that they are trying, and be cheered on. Therefore, I created an entire section in my freebie dedicated to compliments you can give your child while reading. These compliments let them know you acknowledge their hard work, keep them motivated, boost their confidence, and gently correct them.
Over the years, many parents I have worked with will say things like, "Come on, you know this!" Or even worse, go on to answer a question for their child in the Zoom background. It's common to have a parent at least chime in the background and say something like, "Oh, come on, you know we've worked on it at home!" Intervening and saying things such as this is not beneficial to your child. Can you see how this might chip away at their self-esteem and give them the impression that they are not smart enough?
Part of learning is working through things and getting them wrong. It often takes many days of repetition before a concept might stick. This lengthy process is normal to a child's development and learning needs. Just because you worked on something once does not mean it will stick. Trust me, I would work on the same standards every morning for review while doing the calendar in my second-grade classroom, and I would still have students that didn't know how to do those things by the end of the year!
Honoring this process and being gentle with them is critical to their learning process. As a reading interventionist and tutor, I have learned that meeting them where they are currently and building them up based on their strengths is the quickest, most effective means of improving their reading.
Therefore, it's essential to allow your child to feel it's ok to make mistakes, go over something more than once, put themselves out there, and learn from the things they get wrong. How they choose to react to their mistakes is most important. What can they learn here? How can they be better next time? Learning from working through material is far more beneficial than beating themselves up about something "they should already know."
What they need more than anything are words of affirmation, reminders, pointing in the right direction, motivation, cheer, excitement, and encouragement. Markham states,
"To settle down and learn, your child has to know that you love them unconditionally and that you're unconcerned if they struggle to understand something or aren't magically good at something—because you know they are more than enough, exactly as they are."
The fact is, learning to read takes a lot of time and repetition. It's not an innate skill that comes naturally to us. It takes systematic instruction, repetition, and dedication. It's ok if your child has a hard time learning a skill. That's very normal. I like to remind my students, especially those with young siblings, to remember what it was like when that sibling was learning to walk. Their sibling would fall time and time again until they finally got the hang of it and could walk one day. Reading is very much like this. Children stumble and fall over the words until small reminders and lessons on how the letters work begin to stick. Eventually, the child will recognize more words and phrases and crack the reading code.
The process can be so frustrating for you as a parent, but think about what it is like for your child. They are working so hard. Having you be frustrated with them will only break their spirit. Use my FREEBIE to develop ideas on encouraging them and gently redirect them in the reading process.
Sneek Peek Tip #3:
Give Your Child Your Undivided Attention and Interact
One of the best things you can do is focus more on making connections with your child, interacting with them, and creating positive reading and learning experiences. Leave the evaluation to their teacher or another professional such as myself (Reading tutor/interventionist). If you can find a way to connect with your child over reading and make positive experiences of learning and reading together, they will feel confident, safe, and secure to grow in their understanding.
Make reading fun by changing your voices as you read, acting out the books, talking about what you read together, and creating fun memories around reading. Don't be afraid to get silly or theatrical with your reading time. The more fun, the better! Other suggestions in the freebie include creating unique spaces to read or giving them a choice on what they read. This goes a long way in reading at home. If kids feel like they have control over what they read and are interested in the book, they will be more engaged and excited about learning. Click here to receive more tips about making reading more enjoyable at home:
Sneek Peek Tip #4:
Have Fun With Reading, Offer Support and Empathize With Them
Think of ways to make your child's learning less stressful by being there for them. Talking to your child is essential. Empathize with them if something is hard. How can you make them feel supported at this moment? Do they need a pep talk? Do they need help to sound big words? Do they need you to help them read the first few sentences together? Would echo reading be helpful and less stressful for them at this moment?
The most important job as a parent is to decrease your child's anxiety and increase their interest and cooperation to read. Work to help them celebrate the small victories and provide constant encouragement for your child's efforts. Also, remember that your attitude makes a big difference as well. Children learn from how you, as the parent, interact with reading, struggle, and overcome adversity. Try to stay calm and relaxed and make learning light and fun. If you get angry and frustrated, your child isn't likely to learn much anyways.
If you can teach them (and yourself) to focus on the positive or what you can control, things will be much lighter, happier, and easier on your child's self-esteem when it comes time to work at home. Something that they can control includes staying positive and persevering. Also, focus on what they got right versus what they got wrong. It's important to build off of where they currently are academically and use what they already know as a stepping stone to propel on to higher learning.
Remind them not to say things like "I can't" instead say something like, "Hmm, this one is challenging, but I will give it my best." If your child says a statement like, "I'm not good at reading." Reply, It just takes practice and time. You are just not comfortable with it yet. It will come."
Making positive memories about reading, laughing together, and connecting is the most important thing! That is why I created this 5 page PDF document. This FREEBIE is for parents like you. Who views reading time as a struggle or looking to add a little spark to their daily reading routine. This freebie will equip you with ten quick tips to make reading fun and less of a battle at home. These tips will help your child build upon sounding out words, comprehension, and fluency. With these tips, you can cultivate a love of reading/learning at home by providing a fun, loving, and nurturing environment for them to read!
Sneek Peek Tip #5:
Seek Help from a Professional
I have over eight years of experience helping children become confident, skilled readers, and I would say 99% of parents who have hired me say reading time can be a struggle at home. Hiring a professional such as myself brings peace of mind to parents, knowing that their child is receiving weekly, systematic, and individualized instruction.
An unexpected benefit for parents is overhearing the lessons, which helps them understand what is appropriate for their child's grade level and how to instruct them better when working at home.
How the Tutoring Process Works
It's easy to get started with tutoring. We set up a good time to do a FREE reading assessment and make a learning plan specific to your child's individual needs. From there, we set up a weekly time to meet and start working towards checking off reading goals from your child's learning plan! You start by clicking the link below.
In conclusion, I hope this blog adds value to your reading time with your child at home. It's an excellent resource for those looking for answers on how to help a child struggling with reading comprehension, fluency, sounding out words, and the overall enjoyment of your daily reading time at home. Feel free to reach out to me if you need help with how to help a child struggling with reading. It is my absolute passion, and I would love to help your child on their reading journey!