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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

8 Ways to Help Your Struggling Reader

Struggling Readers
Reading is an essential skill, and it is important that it is taught early on. In order for children to do well in school, it is imperative that their literacy skills are adequate or at least measured before they begin any academic training or instruction. It is common for children to struggle when it comes to learning new things, but some struggles are more significant than others. Some children may be reluctant readers and may simply need encouragement, whereas other children may have other problems that prevent them from reading at the level that they should - and it is vital that parents figure out why their children are struggling with reading as soon as they possibly can.

Did you know that about 40% of children struggle with reading? Luckily, with early help most issues can be addressed and overcome, but unfortunately many parents wait a year or more before getting help. This is usually because parents may not be fully aware of why their children are struggling with reading or they believe that their kids simply just don’t want to read. Whether your child does not wish to read and needs to be nudged in the right direction, or whether your child has dyslexia or other related reading disorders, it is important that it is addressed early. In either case, your child may suffer as a result and fall behind. The longer a reading issues goes unchecked, the more difficult it will be to reverse and correct. There are some ways you can help struggling readers.

1. Acknowledge Your Child’s Successes. As a parent, it may be difficult to look at anything other than your child’s reading skills especially when they factor in so much when it comes to other skills and abilities. But by focusing on your child’s other strengths, you can help instill a powerful sense of self-esteem that will help them develop the confidence to get better at reading and any other skills they may need to learn along the way.

2. Set realistic goals. If your child has problems reading, they are not going to overcome the difficulties overnight. It is important to set realistic goals and milestones and to celebrate each one as they come.

3. Don’t limit your child. Poor reading skills can affect other skills as well, namely spelling, but even if your child is a bad speller do not let this setback keep them mute. It is important that children learn to express themselves and communicate, and it is an important skill that they need to learn early on. Waiting around for their reading or spelling to get better will not change things, so it is important that you help them write in any way that they can. You can use a dictionary, practice self spell-check and other skills that they can apply to their writing afterwards. It is important that kids learn to get their thoughts on paper and that they understand how to properly express how they feel.

4. Share your own difficulties with your kids. If your child is feeling down on themselves for their reading problems or disabilities, it can be discouraging, even if you keep encouraging them to improve or if you congratulate achievements in other areas. They want to hear how you overcame your difficulty, make it real for them so they can associate with the problem.

5. Read aloud. Even if your child has issues reading on their own, reading along with them or to them can be incredibly beneficial. Reading aloud can help bolster their language skills and it could also help spark interest and creativity as well.

6. Take care in the small strides. Having a struggling reader is not easy and the journey may be a long one. Kids who have trouble reading do not usually get better all of a sudden, but they can develop skills slowly over time. Help your child with these smaller steps, help them go over the alphabet, help them sound out words, play games with them including the labeling of your groceries to the signs on the road.

7. Remember that it is okay to read slowly. Kids who have a hard time reading, especially those with disorders, may be especially slow readers, but slow reading is not a bad thing. Remember that your child is working at their own pace, and that the way in which their brains process and understand information is what is best for them. If your child needs a little more time to read or get through a sentence, it’s okay.

8. Make sure that you’re a team. Reading problems and other learning disabilities don’t have to be private affairs. By letting family members and teachers in on the struggle, they can help form a supportive team for your child. By working at home and at school, your child can make huge improvements and can feel better about themselves and motivated to improve.

SPECIAL NOTE: With struggling readers let them choose the books they want to read to entice them to read more and help with the situation.  Books personalized for kids can boost their motivation and even forget that they have a problem to begin with since they will be so engulfed in reading about themselves.  It always helps to take their mind off their problem while still working on it without them really noticing.  Get creative!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Are Your Kids Too Busy?

When people think of “busy” the image of a parent with a full schedule is usually a common image. With more and more families containing working parents these days, it is no wonder parents are seen as the busy ones. Between taking care of the family, running errands, keeping up with a career - and not to mention hobbies or passions if one has the time - parents are often running around, maintaining their hectic lives. But when people think of kids, they tend to think of bygone, carefree days full of imagination and play time, right?

Along with busy parents, there are busy kids. With more social and academic pressures in our society urging parents to keep their kids active, to have them participate in sports, after school activities, take up an instrument, learn a language, or join a variety of different clubs, kids may be overworked, too.

For teens, activities are a great way to bolster a college application and is something that many establishments look for when it comes to choosing prospective students. Younger kids may be along for the ride, especially if mom and dad, as well as their siblings, are constantly busy.

Whether kids are part of a club because their friends are or simply because there is no one to pick them up after school until one parent or the other becomes available, kids may feel stress and pressure from constantly running around as much as their older family members do.

Some kids are simply active and energetic, and that is completely normal, so how can you tell whether your child is stressed? Here are some warning signs:

If your child often expresses or visibly shows symptoms of tiredness, anxiety, or even depression (loss of interest, appetite, apathy, etc.)
If they complain of headaches or stomachaches (these can be due to stress, missed meals or lack of sleep)
If they fall behind on school work, if their grades drop

If you notice these issues, then it is important to take action - but what is there to do? If your child’s busy schedule relies on the general activeness of the rest of the family, then you may need to make some adjustments, but overall it is important that you discuss these things with your child and understand what it is that they want. Here are some things that you can do to help:

Agree on activities and arrangements ahead of time, and check in with them periodically to see how things are going
Establish carpools and other things that can help make life easier
Try to balance activities for your kids, and yourself
Make room for quality family time
Set shared priorities
Know when to say no

However, keep in mind that it is important to SLOW IT DOWN.  Take a moment and think about your child's life and what they may be experiencing. If it's hectic, sit down together and decide where you can cut back. If it's overly structured, set aside time for blowing off some steam.  Downtime is crucial for these times and staying home, relaxing, reading a book together is probably much needed rest a child needs.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Are You Reading Aloud With Your Child or Do They Read On Their Own?

Why Reading Aloud is Important

Reading is an essential skill to have. It allows people to learn, it gives them access to information and ideas, it allows them to communicate with others and become an active and productive part of their living community. So how do you go about teaching your child to read at their full potential?

One of the best things you can do is read aloud with them.

Reading to children, or having them read aloud along with you, can yield a great many benefits when it comes to reading, vocabulary, and comprehension.

Reading to your child is often their first experience with reading itself. It is important that children develop relationships with books early on. This can be accomplished with books read to children as well as allowing children to play with baby books, typically of the plastic or thick cardboard variety that allows kids to chomp and play with them physically. While kids grow comfortable with books as objects from the standpoint of a plaything, reading to children will help familiarize them with the action.  It will also help boost vocabulary and communication skills as well.

As children get older, reading aloud to them remains important. Reading out loud can help boost their reading comprehension skills on several levels.  "Children learn when they make connections between what they hear and what they know. One method parents can use to help make these connections is called a think aloud, where you talk through your thoughts as you read (Gold, Gibson - Reading Rockets)." This method utilizes their imagination in order to visualize the story being told. If your child is reading along with you, they can begin to familiarize words by sight with their sound, making them much more effective readers. Books personalized for children can boost the read aloud, think aloud, method.  As you verbalize thoughts when reading, children can associate with the story as they become the stars of the storyline.  These types of customized books can be especially helpful with reluctant readers or struggling readers as well.

Your Child is the Star of Each Story!
Having your child read aloud to you can be helpful for them, too. You can hear where their strengths are and where they may be having trouble, but having your child read aloud to you on their own can help build their confidence, find their own voice, and learn how to build their own vocabulary, enunciation and other basic communication aspects as well.

Above all, as beneficial as reading aloud can be, it ultimately provides you and your child with ample quality time that you will cherish for years to come. Setting aside time for reading with your child will help build your relationship and can allow you to share interests, stories and imaginative ideas.


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