Some children struggle with reading more than others, but before we get into how we can help bridge the gap between fast readers and slow readers, we need to get an understanding of what’s holding the slow readers back.
Why Some Children Have A Harder Time Learning To Read
Let’s first look at the environmental factors.
Learning to read doesn’t start when a child enters formal schooling—some children grow up in more literary households and thus have an edge against those who don’t. It’s obvious that children who, from a young age, had more engagement with children’s books are going to have a more developed vocabulary and a better understanding of literacy concepts than children who didn’t.
With little to no bedtime stories or laptime reading, many children enter elementary school with a poor understanding of language patterns and low awareness of sound structure.
There are also, of course, genetic factors to take into consideration—some children naturally have speech, language, and hearing handicaps, all of which contribute to an increased risk of reading problems.
That’s a fairly broad explanation, but we can also break things down into 5 common reasons why a child may struggle with reading:
- Some children find it more difficult to recognize individual sounds within words (phonemes). Phonemic awareness is the ability to recognize and utilize these speech sounds and some children simply find it more difficult to do than others.
- Decoding—sounding out different words—is more difficult for some children, as is recognizing the familiar word parts within a word.
- Reading comprehension in general—the ability to understand what is being read—can be more difficult for some children due to a limited background in literature and, hence, a limited vocabulary.
- Some children have reading difficulties when it comes to English.
- Many children simply aren’t getting the instructions that they need.
Number 5 is in bold because it’s crucial, and it’s what we’ll be covering from this point on.
How To Improve Children’s Reading Abilities On A Case-By-Case Basis
Depending on the needs of your students, you can utilize a combination of the following tactics, depending on your class, to stimulate their learning abilities and help close the gap between slow readers and fast readers.
Incorporate Post-It Notes
Some students like a more individualized approach to reading and you can do this with post-it notes.
For instance, you can add notes inside books they’re reading with questions about what they think may happen next or what they would do if they were in the situation of the story. Then leave blank notes underneath them so that they can answer these questions.
Set Up A Reading Contest
Some students thrive on competition, so setting up a reading contest may give slower reading students the ambition they need to push themselves to improve.
Of course, motivation doesn’t come without something to achieve—make sure there is a prize at the end for the winner.
Some students, especially auditory learners, focus better with a little background music.
Make sure the music is instrumental and relaxing so it enhances their focus, rather than distracting them.
If you’ve found children who learn better with certain teaching strategies, it may be an excellent idea to group these children up into their own reading groups.
Once they’ve completed their reading assignments, you can have them each write down something important they learned from the literature and group them in sequential order or rank of importance.
Creating A Fun Environment
For some children, environmental factors can make or break their ability to learn.
It’s a good idea to create an atmosphere that students find enjoyable and comfortable when reading time comes—have them each find a spot they like in a place covered in bean bag chairs, pillows, blankets, etc. Let them get comfortable so that their minds can focus better on their reading material.
Many teachers are finding that this free toolkit improves their student’s reading experience and comprehension. In fact, many students are completing their work in half the time when this toolkit is in place.
- Presents the key ideas of the text to the students in a simple way that’s easy for them to comprehend.
- Improves student’s learning and retention.