Did you know that 85% of all reading struggles are caused by weak cognitive skills?
When weak cognitive skills make reading hard, it can set off a chain reaction. It can dampen a love of learning, impact self-confidence, hinder opportunities, and make it harder to feel successful at school or work.
What’s worse, kids who struggle often internalize the struggle. They take it personally. Instead of thinking, “Reading is difficult for me,” they can start believing self-defeating lies like, “I’m not as smart as other people.” “I can’t do anything right.” “I’m such a failure.”
We love our children, and know just how amazing they really are. So when one of our own is feeling inadequate or discouraged, we want desperately to fix the hurt.
If you love a child or teen who is struggling to read, how can you help?
How you can help a child who is struggling to read
Here are seven reading strategies for children:
- Reading Strategy #1: Encourage your child to read, well, pretty much anything. Books. Magazines. Comics. Websites. Blog posts. The back of a cereal box. It all counts! And your child might actually start to realize that reading can be fun.
- Reading Strategy #2: Keep reading aloud to your child. Make it fun. Regardless of the age of your child, create an enjoyable everyday ritual around reading something aloud that he/she finds interesting or entertaining. It might be a page from a book of jokes or trivia or poems, a chapter from one of your child’s favorite authors, or something you discovered online on a topic your child is passionate about. The point here is almost less about “reading,” and more about creating a fun, pleasant experience centered around reading.
- Reading Strategy #3: Create a treasure hunt. Reading isn’t just about grades. Find real-life situations in which reading is the means to an enjoyable end. For example, create a list of clues your child can read and follow to find a treat or prize hidden somewhere.
- Reading Strategy #4: Make book-shopping fun. Plan a fun trip to buy used books at a thrift store, used bookstore, or garage sales. Give your child $10 to spend.
- Reading Strategy #5: Understand the role cognitive skills play in reading. Cognitive skills are the foundational skills the brain uses to think, read, and learn. These skills include memory, attention, logic & reading, auditory processing, and more. Many store-bought games can exercise a wide variety of cognitive skills. You may already have some of these at home:
- Simon – The original echo game, “Simon,” is great for auditory processing, memory and processing speed.
- Mastermind for Kids – This new version of an old classic improves logic and reasoning.
- Stratego, Chess, and Checkers – For older kids, board games like Stratego, Chess and Checkers can work mental skills including planning, memory, comprehension and focus.
- Phonics Flashcards – For very young kids, phonics flashcards can be a great springboard to early reading skills, like sound analysis, sound blending and segmenting.
- Bop-It Extreme – This is a fun tool for building many cognitive skills, including auditory processing, logic and reasoning, processing speed, planning, and selective attention.
- Legos – Legos are excellent for deductive reasoning, planning, and problem solving.
- Slapjack – This age-old card game helps with divided attention, processing speed, short-term memory and visual processing.
- Where’s Waldo? – Or any of the knock-offs in book, poster, or 3-D form can generally be adapted to any age group. These exercises work on divided attention, selective attention and visual processing skills.
- Reading Strategy #6: Music rocks! Research has shown that learning to sing and/or play an instrument can improve reading performance. This is because both rely on strong auditory processing skills. Music lessons, anyone?
- Reading Strategy #7: Frequent your local library. Your local library can play a wonderful role in the life of your child. Get a library card (let your child have his/her own library card if permitted!) and make visits to the library a regular part of your child’s life. Your library not only lends books and audio tapes, but also hosts readings, book signings, and other special events. Every chance you get to help your child associate “books” and “learning” with fun, enjoyable experiences, the better!
If your child is struggling with reading, the next step is to find out why. Call a LearningRx brain training center near you and schedule a time to take a Cognitive Skills Assessment. The assessment takes about an hour and will provide you with invaluable information regarding specific cognitive weaknesses that may be causing your child’s struggle.
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