How to Help a Struggling Reader During Distance Learning

August 14, 2020

How to Help a Struggling Reader During Distance Learning

Many schools have announced plans to return to school for a part-time basis in the classroom. While two (or three) days may be spent in a normal classroom environment, the rest of the week may involve distance learning. Other schools may be embracing a fully remote learning environment and not returning to the classrooms at all.

For children who read below grade level or who have struggled with reading in the past, the lack of class time may worry parents who fear that their children will continue to fall behind. There are many ways parents can learn how to help a struggling reader during distance learning, especially if the child doesn’t receive additional assistance through a 504 Plan or an IEP.  

Keep Communication Lines Open with the School

Just because a child is learning from home doesn’t mean that they won’t have contact or access to their teachers. Schools have embraced Zoom meetings or other ways to stay connected, and even video conferencing can allow children to get additional help or guidance from the teacher.

Parents need to take advantage of these meeting times, too, especially when they need to figure out how to help a struggling reader. Find out when a child’s teacher is available to conference or to talk privately. Parents can inquire about additional reading materials that can help a struggling reader get back on track.

Communication between the school and parents is key to ensure that a child’s academic struggles are addressed. Even if a child doesn’t qualify for an IEP or a 504 Plan, many teachers are still able (and willing!) to provide parents with extra reading materials or enrichment exercises.

Teachers also could refer parents to specialized reading instructors that work for the district. These teachers may be able to provide guided instruction to struggling readers.

Make Sure Kids Read Regularly

When kids struggle to read, they may avoid books completely. Maybe their frustration keeps them from enjoying a book or story. Encourage struggling readers to pick up a book, magazine or comic book every day.

Sit with them and help them sound out words. Ask questions about the story as they read to gauge their understanding. Make sure kids read books and stories that interest them and that are on their reading level.

However, parents also can read to their children. Children who might not be reading on grade level may still want to read the same books and stories that their friends are reading. Parents can encourage them to read books on their level, but parents also can read aloud the stories that their grade-level peers are enjoying, too.

While reading a book beyond the appropriate level may become very frustrating, having a parent read complex texts can allow kids to enjoy the story without worrying about stumbling over words. However, parents should still gauge a child’s understanding by asking questions after each chapter.

How to Help a Struggling Reader During Distance Learning

Complement Books with Fun Activities

We’ve discussed how parents can incorporate activities from books or stories to engage a child into the action or plot of the story. You can cook meals that characters eat in the book or take a field trip inspired by the book. Or just watch the movie adaptation of the book.

Activities can help children immerse into the plot and step into the shoes of the characters from the story. Take a book field trip or cook up some green eggs and ham! Jump into the story and help your child see how much fun reading can be!

Don’t be afraid to get creative with activities. Parents can help children put on puppet shows from the book, too. Or have your child design a shoe-box diorama. Sometimes thinking outside the binding of the book can be a great way to better understand how to help a struggling reader.

Work with Worksheets

Reading worksheets can be found all over the internet. If your child needs extra reading help, parents can hunt down a few worksheets for extra enrichment. These lessons may even include comprehension questions that children will need to answer after reading a paragraph or excerpt.

Your child’s teacher also may be able to provide some additional reading worksheets. Parents also could order reading enrichment materials online.

Use a Reading App

For children that need more help reading on grade-level, parents can utilize a reading app like Readability. Before committing to an app or reading program, be sure to research its capabilities and features to ensure it meets your child’s needs. Readability is designed to help children with phonetic, phonemic and comprehension struggles.

Readability also moves at a pace that is ideal for each child; lessons gradually become more difficult as the child shows mastery. After each book, the app’s AI tutor will ask questions to gauge a child’s understanding of the story. The AI tutor is programmed to recognize each child’s unique voice, and this allows the tutor to help correct any mispronunciations during lessons, too.

Parents can follow their child’s progress via the Parent Dashboard. Data from the dashboard will show how long a child engaged with the app and will allow parents to see their current reading level. This provides insight for parents who need reassurance about their child’s progress.

Parents can sign-up for a free trial for seven days to better understand the features and efficacy of the app and to be sure it’s right for their child. Interested in trying out the app during fall distance learning? Sign up for free now!