‘Novel Ideas’ to Help a 6-Year-Old Struggling with Reading

June 18, 2021

A six-year-old may either be in kindergarten or entering first grade. At this age, children are learning to read and may be working on phonics skills such as sound blends. Reading comprehension will likely focus on retelling and the ‘wh’ questions (who, what, when, where and how). Teachers in both kindergarten and first grade may have a list of sight words that students are expected to memorize.

Some six-year-olds may pick up reading quickly, while others may take some time. Reading should be fun for kids, but children struggling to read may need extra reading practice and parental help at home. Parents who want to encourage children to read on their own, though, can try these ‘novel ideas’ to help a 6-year-old struggling with reading.

Sight Word Games

Make a game out of learning sight words. Parents can create their own unique game at home or try one of these game ideas to make learning that list of words a bit more fun.

Sight Word Match

Create two cards of each sight word. Draw an accompanying illustration for words that can be depicted with a picture. For example “I” can include a photo of your child. Mix up all the cards and lay them face down. Take turns trying to make matches. Say the word when each card is flipped to help facilitate word recognition and understanding.

Sight Word Go Fish

For this game parents will need to make four cards for every sight word. The deck might be bigger than a traditional deck, but that’s ok. Shuffle the cards, give each player five to seven cards, and take turns asking for a sight word. The rules of this game are the same as Go Fish. If the player asks for a card from another player, and that player doesn’t have the card s/he requested, then the player has to take a card from the main deck.

Sight Word Scavenger Hunt

This game can be played anywhere, but it’s especially fun to play during errands. Give your child a paper with their list of sight words and have them hunt for the words. When the word is discovered, have your child mark it off their list. Words can be discovered on signs, on food labels, in advertisements, etc.

Sight Word Sort

This game is a bit of a hybrid of a cornhole game. Parents can buy buckets or containers (even old coffee tins would work) and label them with a sight word. For every sight word bucket, parents will need to make a sight word ball or bean bag. Children will need to stand behind a marked area (parents can use a string or ruler for children to stand behind). Then they need to try to toss the sight word ball/beanbag into the corresponding bucket. They should read the word on the ball/beanbag before tossing.

Reading Races Can Help Children Practice Reading Fluency

For some children, reading fluency can be a struggle. Children may stumble on words or just might not be confident or comfortable reading out loud. Parents can help children practice fluency by holding reading races.

At school, teachers may ask children to read a paragraph aloud to find how many words per minute they can read fluently. This is an easy lesson for home enrichment, too. Parents can download age-appropriate paragraphs via sites online or they can just ask their child’s teacher for worksheets.

Parents should set a stopwatch and instruct children to read. After one minute, parents should tell students to stop. Parents can then look over the paragraph to see how far their child was able to read. Parents can work with children to help them decipher and sound out difficult words. Then ask the child to read the paragraph again.

Reading Comprehension Games and Activities

Reading comprehension may be a struggle for some 6-year-olds. In kindergarten and first grade, comprehension may focus more on the ‘wh’ questions related to the book, and children also may need to be able to summarize the plot.

Comprehension becomes more difficult and abstract in later elementary years. Children will be expected to infer meaning, predict what might happen next and put themselves in the shoes of the character. Comprehension becomes less black and white and more about reading between the lines. Metaphors, similes and character comparisons also become part of the analysis of a book or story.

Help children work on comprehension using these games and activities at home.

Comprehension Catch

Make a comprehension ball with a beach ball. In each section, write a question or a prompt about the book or story. Toss the ball to the child, and they will need to answer the question on the segment that faces up. Parents can buy comprehension balls online or use online resources to find ideas for section prompts. Parents also can create different balls to work on comprehension related to characters and plot. Many websites and blogs (and Pinterest, too!) offer examples for making comprehension balls.

Comprehension Plays

Become the character! Get the family involved in a play about the book. Help your child recreate a scene or maybe even the whole story via a play. Create costumes or just make homemade puppets to stage the play. For puppets, have children draw the characters on cardstock. Cut them out and paste them on popsicle sticks. Help children write a script for the play. Parents may need to write the script, but children can dictate. This may help them retell the story, too.

Comprehension Cornhole

This is yet another version of a cornhole game. Parents should make a large mat using poster boards. On this mat, draw six large circles in different colors in a vertical line. In each circle, write a different comprehension prompt. For six-year-olds, parents might want to stick with those ‘wh’ questions. Have children toss a beanbag on the mat/board. Children should answer the prompt where the beanbag lands. Pinterest has a similar type of game using sight words. Parents can create their own unique board, too.

Enriching Activities

Some activities might not directly help a child’s reading, but they could make them enjoy the reading experience in a unique way. Try these activities to immerse your child’s senses into the reading journey.

Cook a Reading Recipe

Find food in a book the child is reading and prepare it at home. This could be something simple or a unique food. Eating a food that the character enjoys is a fun way to step into the character experience.

Go on a Reading Field Trip

Visit a site or location from a book. While parents might not be able to plan a trip to the exact location in the book, think of a similar destination or a place related to the book. For example, if the child is reading a book about dinosaurs, then take a trip to a history museum or science center. The Association of Independent School Librarians offers a great write up related to reading field trips as they relate to history; the books mentioned aren’t for six-year-old reading levels, but the post can help parents of younger children get some ideas on how to create these types of trips.

Listen to the Story

Some children might like to listen to the story as they read. This might help them hear the pronunciation of a difficult word or maybe better understand the inflection of a character’s emotion. Parents may try letting their child listen to a book on tape while reading.

Watch the Movie

Watching the big screen adaptation of a book can be an interesting experience. Some movies based on books might follow the book to the letter. Others veer into a different direction entirely. Watch the movie after reading the book. Encourage children to spot the differences and talk about how the book and the movie compare to each other. How were they similar? How were they different? Ask the child if they liked the book or the movie better.

More Ways to Help a Six-Year-Old Struggling with Reading

While games, activities and out-of-the box enriching sensory experiences can all help children in different ways, sometimes parents just want to find an easy way to help their child. Helping a child might not be simple; some children take time to master reading. Other children may need more enrichment to meet benchmark standards.

Parents who are concerned about their child’s reading struggles might reach out to the child’s teacher. Additional testing or evaluations may be necessary. Or a teacher might be able to provide advice on how to help a child at home.

Parents can work with children at night by reading with them. Parents can help children work on sounding out words and answering the key ‘wh’ questions related to understanding. Children should read books that are at the appropriate reading level—teachers can help parents understand how to identify reading level.

A reading app like Readability also could help a six-year-old struggling with reading. Readability provides a built-in AI tutor that helps children as they read. The tutor corrects pronunciation errors and will ask questions at the end of each story related to comprehension. Children don’t progress to a higher level until they demonstrate mastery at their current level. Books are never too easy or too hard, and content is engaging with interactive features and colorful illustrations.

With a reading app, parents are never in the dark about their child’s progress. Readability provides a Parent Dashboard that displays the child’s reading level, their progress, their time spent on the app as well as other literacy data. In addition, parents also can send literacy reports from the app to the child’s teacher.

Parents interested in using a reading app for their child, however, should be sure to understand billing and pricing structure. Some apps are billed monthly, but others could schedule payments differently. Parents also should be sure that the app fits their child’s needs. Readability helps children with phonics, fluency and comprehension. The app also can be used through sixth grade, so it will grow with younger students.

Ready to try Readability? Sign up for a free trial today!