How to Help a Child with Reading Difficulties When Time is Crunched

July 23, 2021

Parents often juggle many roles. Some may work full-time or even juggle multiple jobs to ensure that all the family’s needs are met. When work ends, parents may be exhausted and just want to enjoy some downtime or spend quality time with their children.

Parents who barely have time to relax may not know how to find enough time to help children if they struggle with reading or other subjects. For parents wondering and worrying about how to help a child with reading difficulties when time is crunched, here are a few ideas, tips and words to ease your mind.

Before the Tips & Advice…

Parents sometimes feel that they don’t do enough. There is a push to always do more, and when doing more is not possible, guilt might be the overwhelming emotion. Parents might be inundated with images and videos from social media that depict other families as seemingly perfect…with lifestyles that look like they are straight off of Pinterest.

Click out of the social media, and understand one important rule: all parents struggle at times. No parent is invincible, able to tutor on multiple subjects, fix dinner, sweep the floor and answer the work phone in a single second…simultaneously.

Parents need to give themselves a break and understand that doing the best they can do at any given moment is all that anyone—including our kids—can ask of us.

So if a child is struggling with reading, and it’s 9 o’clock, and mom (or dad) is sleep-deprived, turn off the lights and go to bed. There are ways to help struggling readers, but staying up all night is not necessarily the best solution.

Maximizing Time When there is No Time

Juggling multiple jobs or one never-ending job can feel that there really is no time for anything else…including being a child’s tutor after school. So what is a parent to do? Here are a few ways to carve out time to help children, when time seems compromised.

Map the Day

Sometimes even when it seems like there isn’t a spare second of time, we can carve out some small moments. When parents are looking for time to help children, it might help to write out their day…or map out the day.

This isn’t a big project. It’s just making a schedule. Write out when kids are dropped off at school or daycare, when work ends as well as other appointments and events. Include meal prep in the schedule, too.

The goal is to map the day by the hour to analyze when parents can carve out some extra time with kids. Helping children with reading doesn’t have to mean spending an hour on a lesson. Just 15 to 30 minutes could help them, too.

Pack a Book

Many parents pack snacks or other items for their kids in their bags. Every day, parents also can pack a book. This ensures that parents always have a book with them for children. Sitting at the doctor’s office? Start reading with your child.

Going to the grocery store? Give the child a book in the back seat and encourage them to read out loud. Parents can help guide children. Or ask questions about the story.

Pack books in the car, too. A bag in the backseat can be a mini, mobile library full of books and reading material for on-the-go learning.

Technology Can Be Helpful

Some young children may struggle to master sound blends or sight words. Game-based apps can be downloaded to mobile devices like phones and tablets for a convenient way to help children practice reading skills.

The convenience of mobile apps is that they can go anywhere. Children can practice their blends or their sight words while a sibling is at a sports practice or even on the car ride home (from school or daycare).

For children who need to practice reading, ebooks also can be a great way to read on the go. Most devices have an ereader already downloaded. Parents can open the reader to find a library for books that can be purchased or maybe even downloaded for free.

These virtual books can be appealing to children who love learning via technology. Parents can encourage children to read aloud during a drive home and ask them questions about the book. Parents also can help correct mispronunciations.

Bedtime Can Be the Best Time for Reading

Many children read before they go to bed. At this time in the evening, parents might have had some time to wind down from their day. They can sit with children at night and read to them or with them. Most children are encouraged to read nightly for 15 or 20 minutes (sometimes more). Nightly reading before the lights go out might help parents relax a bit, too.

Parents and children can take turns reading a page or reading a chapter. Parents can ask questions related to the main story plot points. They might focus on the key ‘w/h’ questions of comprehension: who, what, where, when, why and how.

No Time During the Week? Opt for the Weekend

There might not be a second of free time during the week if parents are working multiple jobs. Instead of stressing about building in minutes to help children during the week, parents may opt to designate some special time for children during the weekend.

Parents might be more relaxed and able to better focus on the moment when the weekend rolls around. However, busy work days may leave parents worn out, stressed and lacking patience.

Remember that It Takes a Village

Some parents might not even have time during the weekend to help their child with homework or to tutor them in reading. Many parents work with no days off, and no breaks between obligations. Raising a child takes a village, and others can help children when parents just can’t find the time.

When children need help with reading, parents can reach out to their child’s school to inquire about community programs or even opportunities offered by the school. Organizations like the Boys and Girls Club also could provide enrichment or tutoring services. The local YMCA also could offer academic tutoring.

If parents need help and resources, reaching out to the school or school district might be the best option to find additional support in the community.

Online Reading Programs

Online programs or apps also could help provide support and enrichment for children who struggle with reading. While some educational apps are designed as games, others, like Readability, are designed to provide more immersive support for struggling readers.

Readability offers a built-in AI tutor that provides one-on-one learning for children who use the program. The tutor can help children correct their pronunciation if they stumble on a word during lessons, and the AI tutor also tests a child’s comprehension of the story by asking questions about what they have read.

Books and stories in Readability are leveled for the reading abilities of each child. Parents can choose their child’s reading level when their child begins the program. As the child shows mastery of each level, they move onto harder stories and books. Children only advance, though, when they demonstrate both reading proficiency and a master of comprehension. This ensures that children can move at their own level. Some children may struggle at a level and may need more time to master that level. Each child is unique.

Busy parents can always check in on their child’s progress by visiting the Parent Dashboard. This section is only visible to parents and shows how long the child used Readability, their current reading level, their words per minute and any other pertinent reading data. The information also can be compiled into a report that can be sent to the child’s teacher. This helps facilitate communication between parents and educators about a child’s progress at home; teachers can use the reports to compare against what they see in the classroom.

Readability can be used anytime and anyplace with an internet hotspot or wifi connection. Parents who have multiple children with reading struggles can use the same account for up to three children. Since a Readability subscription only costs $19.99 per month, this means that parents are paying less than $7 per month per child (assuming three children are using the account) for reading assistance.

Parents can also let their children preview Readability for a week for free. Readability offers a free trial that allows children to use all the features of the program and explore the stories. This can help parents better understand if the program is a fit for their child’s needs…and to see if their child likes the program.

Like other apps, Readability is mobile. Children can access their Readability subscription using a tablet or phone…or just on their computer. Ready to try out Readability? Parents can sign up for a free trial today!