Strategies For Teaching Reading: Reading Strategies For Struggling Readers

Like anyone of us, children love to be good at things. The quicker and easier it is for them to learn something the more confidence they will have and the harder they will try.

Teaching a preschooler to read at home can be either a chore or a pleasure; something your child "takes to" or resists kicking and screaming at every turn.

I recently received an email from a frustrated and exasperated father who was home school preschooling his daughter and had spent 8 (unsuccessful) months trying to teach her to read. This father had tried various popular methods without success. The result was that he was angry and frustrated and his daughter hated reading and wasn't much closer to knowing how to read at all!

Upon examination I discovered that he was going about the process all wrong. Not only was he giving his daughter methods that took too long for her to understand, her lessons had also become boring and because she wasn't seeing any results for herself she was feeling despondent and unhappy.

What can you do to teach your child to read? Is it possible to make your child become a fast and fluent reader?

To learn the advanced strategies to teach your child to read at a proficient level, simply click here.

Don't kill your child's passion for reading before it's even begun

To begin with, you have to show your preschooler that reading is more fun than anything else they've done so far. It is a wonderful new game that they can play with you, and they have your 100% undivided attention for the duration of the "game".

Teaching your child to read is like teaching them to ride a bicycle. All that you really want to do is to get them to ride for a little on their own and without you holding them. Once your child's confidence is sparked, they will become better riders by themselves simply by practicing what you've taught them. You will only have to supervise a little.

Reading requires much of the same process. Start by building your preschooler's confidence in their reading ability and they will take over from there and astound you with their progress.

On the other hand, make reading a chore or a bore, let your child struggle to see their own progress and teaching your preschooler to read will be so much harder and will take a lot longer than you could ever imagine.

So let's have a look at a quick way to get your child to read a book by themselves in the shortest possible time.

25 little words give you access to one third of the English language

This is an amazing truth. The 25 most common words in the English language allow you to read one third of all materials written in English.

So by teaching your child to read these 25 words, they will be able to pick up just about any book and begin reading.

Although phonics is a skill every parent who is home schooling their child must teach their child, by allowing your child to learn to read the 1st 25 words using the look-and-say method, you will be accomplishing 4 very important things:

1. You will have started teaching your preschooler to read
2. You will have built your child's confidence in their reading ability
3. You will have sparked an interest and love for reading in your child
4. Your preschooler will have read their very 1st book (be it with a little help from you)

Not too shabby from just 25 little words!

By increasing the amount of words to incorporate the entire 100 most common words in the English language (these words are freely available on Wikipedia), your child will be able to read over 50% of all written materials.

Once you have accomplished this you can introduce phonics to your preschooler. By now your child should be crazy about reading and books and they will be asking you to teach them more.

Pay Close Attention Here-

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Many parents want to help their child learn to read and spell before they start school but don't really know where to start- they would like a simple step by step guide. Here I give parents a good start - we call this Level 1- and its suitable for children as soon as they start to talk.

I would also like to see pre-school and prep aged children develop an understanding of the written code as early as possible bearing in mind their individual capabilities. I therefore encourage people to focus much more on creating opportunities for children based around their language development rather than age- and will be discussing in depth ways in which we can help children develop language skills, in another article.

Forget the end result - ie that children will love to read and be excellent at spelling and writing - let's focus on giving children opportunities to understand concepts. If children are able to create the sound 'buh' then they are capable of learning the symbol that is used to represent that sound ie the letter 'b'. If they can look at a picture that represents something- eg a house- they can see a letter and learn it is used to represent a sound- make sure you do this with sounds they can create with their mouths. Generally 'muh' 'buh' etc.'

This guide - Part 1 - is subject to change. I hope to constantly edit it, so it becomes easier to understand and to use. Your feedback is invaluable-do let me know how you get on with it.

Let's start from the beginning- from a point children understand. Let's consider the concepts that are required by the children- so they understand what they are doing- and become readers who really understand the written code.

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I'd like you to consider the following 3 concepts before you start doing anything with your child. The more you understand the easier it will be for you to explain it to your child, and to create experiences and activities to introduce and reinforce these concepts.

These concepts dont necessarily follow on from one another- although I have put them in the logical order. Be creative- just think about introducing them and reinforcing them wherever you can- in the car, supermarket, at the park! Make it fun- something you are exploring together.

1/ Spoken words are made up of sounds.

For children to understand what a letter is we first start by giving them opportunities to understand what we mean when we talk about sounds in words. Even at this stage you can start to break down words so children hear parts of words- eg ouch- could be 'ow - pause- ch' 'Harry- I made two sounds with my voice when I said that word!' At this stage dont write it down- all we are doing is focussing on what we are saying. We are introducing the words 'sounds' and the word 'word'!

So don't look at a letter and ask what sound it makes- letters dont make sounds (unless electronic!)

Children are ready for this when they are making sounds- its then meaningful.

Repeat sounds, words, make up funny sounds- and use the word 'sound' as you do so. 'listen to this sound 'eheheheheheheooooooaaaahhh'

They can look at your mouth- you are introducing concepts relating to the sounds we make using our voices!

Follow on from this with the fact that sounds we make can be at the beginning, middle or end of words! So the sound 'b' (think buh, not bee) can be heard at the beginning of words we speak, in the middle and at the end! Listen for a sound in words- ask them to wave at your when your mouth creates the 'buy' sound for example- say 'banana, stable, grab'- emphaisising the 'buh sound. Don't just focus on beginning sounds. Let's not limit children.

2/ The sounds we make using our voices can be recorded on paper! Yeah! We can draw a horse to represent the picture of a horse- and in the same way we can draw the picture that represents the sounds we use in our words! When we say the sound 'buh' in words- at the beginning, middle or end- sometimes twice or three times in a word!- we can actually draw this sound- it looks like this!

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When you introduce this please draw it while they are watching- from the top down up and round- use this language. 'down, up and round'. Why not introduce correct letter formation while teaching them to read?

Put that picture on your fridge- whats this a picture of? The sound 'buh'! That's a sound symbol.

Find pictures that have this sound in it- a picture of a banana, stable etc- you might even put a word with 2 of them- kebab!

Write the word for that object in black and put next to the picture- and the child can go over the b in red- doesn't matter if its messy. You want the 'buh' to stand out. Its all we are focussed on. The concept of a sound in words, and that we can represent it on paper. (the word 'letter' doesn't matter at the moment- although by all means mention it's nake- however we want the focus to be on the picture representing a sound)

If you see a capital B then point it out- this is the 'important' way to write 'buh'. So we use this picture/ symbol instead of 'b' when its someone's name- because they are important. Again show them how to draw this picture- of the important 'buh' Focus on lower case sounds in the early stages as this is mainly what they will see in the books you share with them, and when they see people writing.

Then introduce other pictures/ symbols of sounds- I have suggested 'buh' here- as its easier for me to write it down so you will understand I mean the 'buh' sound and not 'bee'- you can use any sounds.

You could then introduce s, i, t, p, n, a

3/ Symbols of sounds can be put together on the paper to create a whole word. We do this from left to right.

To introduce this concept they need to understand the previous 2 concepts- as we are going to put it all together.

Use only 3 letter words- and only 3 letter words that they can 'sound' out! eg b a t

Have cards with these pictures on them (lower case, all same height) and encourage the children to do it 2 ways:

The first is 'spelling. You say a word - eg pin- and the children work out which is the first sound- and find the symbol that represents that sound. That needs to go first- on the left. Then ask if they hear any other sounds when you say the word - say the whole word again... 'pin'... slowly- pronouncing each sound clearly. They will usually then tell you there is a n (nuh)- so ask if its at the end or the middle? You have done this work already- so its not new. 'nuh' is at the end- so what sound is in the middle? Say the whole word again 'pin'. Help and encourage- you do it if they don't hear it pretty quickly. Then look at the word- pointing left to right- and with the children say the sound (verbally) as you point to the letters- quickly enough for the child to 'hear' that this word is 'pin'.

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Always reinforce by doing the whole word at the end - and use your finger - pointing to each sound symbol as you say it, while saying the whole word. You could then get the children to trace the individual sound symbols (letters)- showing them how they are formed- eg 'up, down and around'.

The second way - the other way around- is reading! You create a 3 letter word from those sounds- eg 'pat'. Use the individual cards in order. Point to the card on the left- can you remember what sound we make with our mouths when we see this sound symbol? 'p' (short- not pee) Do that for the second- and then do 1 and 2 together- and finally look at the third and then put it all together. Point to the cards as you say the words slowly, left to right. Again, finish with the whole word.

Many children who find reading difficult will find it difficult to 'hear' the whole word when the individual sound symbols are given in order 'buh...a.....tuh' - they need lots of practise 'hearing' that this is the word 'bat'

So your child can 'read' and 'spell' lots of words using these 7 sound symbols!

pit, pin, sit, sat, bat, bit etc etc

Gradually add new ones- so you can create new words- and spell new words!

Eventually they will know all 26 sound symbols (letters of the alphabet) however it is more important that they understand these concepts than recognise all letter sounds. Go slowly and have fun! Play bingo, snap, pairs etc with your cards. Put them in a folder and make them special. Also put copies on the fridge etc. Remember though that the first concept revolves around the sounds we use in our words- we aren't starting from what's on the cards. They just represent the sounds- focus on getting children to 'hear' sounds in words first. Children who fail, or who have learning difficulties struggle with this- and all children benefit from lots of work this way around.

4/ When the children are fairly familiar with the above you can introduce the concept that some pictures actually represent more than 1 sound (that we make with our mouths)

Do you - as a parent- know which they are? Work it out! Ill give you 3. 'o'- as it 'hot' or in 'most' (so it can be 'o' or ow') g- as in got or giraffe (j) and x as in fox or exit (in exit it does sound differently- has ore of a 'g' sound) Sometimes accents also plays a part.

So up until now you have been using 3 letter words- that they can 'sound out'- so now you can use 4 letter words- however again they must all remain 'single' pictures. eg 'frog' is OK as all sounds are individual. Do not, in level 1 use symbols that consist of 2 sounds which together make a different sound- eg shut would be made up of 3 sound symbols ie sh + u + t.

We start introducing these in level 2.

Of course if it comes up- suppose you heard the 'sh' sound in words- then show the children how you draw the picture for that sound 'sh'.

But at level 1 we want to keep it simple- and make sure they understand level 1 concepts. This guide covers part 1 of level 1.

Create mini books with them- made up of words that they can 'sound out' It doesn't matter if they cant write it- although that would be great- what matters is the auditory and the visual at this stage. No pencils required:-) Use fingers to trace however- on the table, in the air etc.

You can introduce a sight word in level 1 - the word 'the'. They can learn that this is the word 'the' by memory- Ill allow that (smile)- even though you will know that to me learning sight words in the early years is a sin.

This means you can create sentences (use the word 'sentence' - why not?) - eg 'The cat sat on the pin.' You could then draw the cat jumping up- and no reason you can add the word in big letters 'ouch!' and an exclamation mark to show surprise, shock etc. You can explain this word has two pictures- ou and ch (ow and chu). Even though they might not be ready- and some may be!- we can put it in here even though we are still at level 1. Its amazing how much goes in. And this is a concept- 'o' + 'u' sitting together = ou (ow)

I am adamant that at this stage children should not be given 'readers' to de-code that aren't de-codable by them at that stage. Yes, read to them and with them- but 'their 'readers should be 'readable' to them. If the words used arent within the above concepts them don't ask the child to 'read' them. All they will do it learn to guess and to memorise. We want to know they are de-coding!

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Once your child has mastered the letters of the alphabet which is stage one of any phonics program, they are ready to move on to two letter blends. These include the words:- an, am, at, as, it, in, is, if. Write these out or print them out from your PC. Make the letters large and easy to read. Show your child how to say the letters blended together once they know the individual letters. Repeat little and often to reinforce the idea and begin to blend words yourself when you read to your child.

Reading makes your child SMARTER, here's how to develope early reading skills

The next stage is to put the words into a sentence and write out the sentence. Don't expect your child to read the sentence yet. Simply point to the blends you want to teach. Point to the individual letters in the words and run your finger along them while you say the words, blending the sounds together. For example:

Here is an apple. I am a boy/girl. The postman is at the door. As cold as ice. It is in the tin. We are having a picnic if it is sunny.

Use your imagination and make it fun. Your child will be pleased they can read real words in real sentences. One your child knows the alphabet, can read these simple words and has begun to get the idea of blending their reading ability will take off in leaps and bounds. They will be ready for three letter blends and more. This is a really exciting stage in reading development and the first important step to independent reading which is the goal of reading instruction.

Many in-service teachers are not knowledgeable in the basic concepts of the English language. They do not know how to address the basic building blocks of language and reading. - This is NOT a statement that we are making, rather, this is a finding from a study done at the Texas A&M University. Their study was aptly titled "Why elementary teachers might be inadequately prepared to teach reading." To discover the scientifically proven methods, that will enable you to teach your child to read, and help your child become a fast and fluent reader, visit Approaches to Teaching Reading

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While this article has a primary focus on children with ADHD, the strategies discussed here can be utilized to help any child with challenging behaviors.

Children with ADHD or ADHD-like symptoms frequently have difficulty at school. They often get yelled at, lose recess time, get put in time out, get detention, or get a phone call home. When they get home they may be punished again for their behavior at school or for exhibiting challenging behaviors at home. Consequences in school generally occur when students have trouble in the following areas: following directions, sticking to the class routine, keeping track of assignments, staying seated, staying in their area, working quietly, completing their work, or raising their hand before speaking.

Students with ADHD cannot always control their behavior due to their disability having a neurological basis. Their actions are not based on willful, purposeful defiance. When children get punished for actions they cannot control, behaviors often get worse. Over time, from being embarrassed in front of peers, yelled at by teachers and/or parents, and punished for things they cannot help, their self-esteem goes down. They feel frustrated and angry and they may shut down (refusing to do work, not communicating their feeling with adults) or their behaviors may increase rather than decrease.

While every child with ADHD is different, below are some common characteristics:

Children with ADHD often have trouble:

- catching directions the first time (they may be distracted by something else or thinking about something else).

- remembering directions (they are often thinking of so many things they may forget information that the parent or teacher deems important).

- controlling their impulses (they may blurt something out, grab something from another student, call out in class, etc. even after being told not to several times).

- remembering or carrying out multiple steps such as that in a morning routine in class (e.g., unpack, put your belongings away, take out your pencil and morning journal, complete the writing assignment on the board) or for an educational assignment (such as completing a long division problem or planning a school project).

- concentrating or focusing for prolonged periods of time, which may be required for a written assignment, a reading assignment, or listening to a teacher-directed lesson (they can become distracted by movement or noises in the environment, distracted by their own thoughts, feel a need to get up and move, or simply need a mental break because they can only sustain attention for so long)

- keeping their body still or remaining seated

- keeping materials organized or keeping track of important papers or belongings

With the right strategies in place, children with ADHD symptoms can make positive behavior changes in school and at home.

As a parent, be an advocate for your child. Work with your child's teacher, administrator, and guidance counselor to help them understand your child's symptoms. Let the school know that your child needs to be supported rather than punished for behaviors they may not be able to control.

It is important to understand however, that a teachers job can be overwhelming. She has 20+ students to manage, lesson plans to write, tests to grade, scores and grades to keep, etc. It can be overwhelming for a teacher to implement all the strategies necessary to support students with behavioral needs like those with ADHD, especially when she may have more than one child with behavioral challenges in her classroom.

Despite these facts, your child's teacher should put forth her best effort to understand what strategies are recommended for children with ADHD or children with challenging behaviors, and try her best to put these strategies in place. If she cannot meet your child's needs due to being overwhelmed, the school needs to work with you and her, using a team approach, to figure out how to utilize all possible resources in the building. For example: Can the guidance counselor get involved? Can a peer buddy help? Can an administrator step in? There are a lot of resources in a school that can be exhausted in order to help teachers feel supported when implementing strategies.

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If a child's needs are so great that they cannot be supported in a classroom with one teacher, even after all school resources have been exhausted, he may benefit from an evaluation by a school psychologist to determine what additional supports through the special education he may be eligible for. Special education looks very different than it did in the past. Children can often remain in the regular classroom and receive extra support from a special education teacher or paraprofessional.

Children with an official medical diagnosis of ADHD or another condition (e.g., generalized anxiety disorder, depression, or Asperger's) are entitled to a 504 plan if their disability is interfering with their academic progress. A 504, also called a Chapter 15, is a legal document that requires your child's school to provide accommodations for your child, so they are not falling behind their peers due to their disability. Due a Google search for "504 Plan" or talk to your child's school for more specific information.

As a parent, work with the school team to understand the behaviors your child is exhibiting. For example: Is he talking too much and not completing work? Is he out of his seat and calling out? Is he losing his papers and forgetting how to carry out routines? Is it all of the above?

Here is a list of specific strategies to support children with ADHD or ADHD-like symptoms in school:

1) If a child has trouble sitting still or staying in his seat he should be given opportunities to move throughout the day.

Opportunities for movement can include:

- standing up at his desk while doing work

- walking around the class in a predefined area

- getting out of his seat to stretch

- passing out materials

- erasing the board

- running errands to the school office

- going to the water fountain

It is up to the parents and the school team to work with the child to figure out what type of movement break would be best.

2) Seat the child away from distractions as much as possible. Keep the child seated away from the window, door, pencil sharpener, and talkative peers.

3) Have lists available for students who can read so they can refer to the list for tasks requiring multiple steps (e.g., a list of the steps for the morning routine or a list of steps for long division). Remind them to refer to the list if they forget the steps and do not independently refer to the list.

For students who are not yet able to read, try to provide a visual schedule of the steps or give them reminders of the steps if you cannot provide visuals.

4) Chunk classwork into small manageable steps. Give the student a certain task to complete. Check it when done and then give him a break to move or engage in a preferred activity when the task is completed. For example, if the class has to complete 20 math problems, allow the student with ADHD to complete 10, take a two to five minute break and complete the next ten. Make the goal reasonable for the child. Some children might need a break after only five questions.

For more open ended assignments such as listening to a class lecture, use a timer. For example have the student listen for five minutes and write down three important facts, then give the student his break. Also use a timer to time the break time. Allow the timer to dictate the end of the break rather than you arbitrarily saying "okay, breaks over." Let the student know the exact plan (e.g., after you complete ten problems you will have a three minute break).

5) Assist the student with staying organized. Show him exactly how to organize his materials and supervise and guide him regularly, while he tries to do independently. As he becomes more independent with organization, slowly fade out the organization checks.

6) Stay close to the student: Frequently walk by his desk, keep him seated near your desk, or stand near his desk when teaching (whichever strategy makes the most sense for your classroom).

Here are some class-wide strategies to help all students including the ones with ADHD

1) Phrase directives in the positive and use redirection. Tell your students what you want them to do rather than what you don't want him to do (e.g., "put your pencil down", "look up here", "finish writing your sentence", etc. instead of "stop tapping your pencil", "stop talking", "stop playing with things in your desk", etc.)

2) Post clear rules that tell your students exactly what you expect (e.g., raise your hand, quiet while working, stay in your area) and frequently review these rules. When any child breaks the rules, including a child with ADHD, remind them of the rule in a neutral tone (e.g. when the student calls out point to the rule and say "we have to raise our hand to be called on.")

Implement these rules with consistency. If you allow some of the children break the rules some of the time, you can't expect children to know when to follow the rules. The expectation should be for them to follow the class rules at all times.

3) Give children choices throughout their day. This gives students a sense of control. Feeling in control is very important for students with challenging behaviors. When they feel more in control they are less likely to defy you because they feel like their opinion matters, which helps them feel respected.

Here are examples of some choices for students:

Do you want to write your assignment on paper or type it on the computer?

Read a page from a book of your choice and summarize the page by either drawing a picture or writing a paragraph.

After you complete your assignment, do you want to play a math quiz game or play hangman on the board?

4) Use random selection to call on students, rather than just calling on the ones who raise their hands. For example, you can write each students name on a Popsicle stick and put the sticks in a cup. A student will never know when their turn is coming to participate, which will encourage all students to pay attention.

5) Praise students for following the rules and participating (e.g., "Thank you for raising your hand.", "You worked very quietly today.", "You remained in your area during your assignments, nice work!", "Great participation during science today.", etc.). This helps with student self-esteem, reinforces rules, and motivates other students to receive the same type of praise.

6) Allow students to earn time to engage in preferred activities for following class rules and completing their assignments. Preferred activities can include movement breaks like the ones mentioned above, class time to play a game, ten minutes of extra recess, 15 minutes to talk to peers, drawing a picture, computer time, or whatever you deem appropriate for your students and classroom. You can even do a Google search for "Reward Ideas in the Classroom."

When working with children at home, encourage them to complete homework, chores, and follow rules by using the same strategies described above for encouraging compliance in the classroom.

I understand that not every one of these strategies will work for you, your household, your classroom, or your child. These strategies may not be what you are used to and may require a lot of changes on your part. While there is no perfect method for eliminating all challenging behaviors, these are the strategies that I endorse and believe in as being the most effective for creating behavioral change. I believe in these strategies for three reasons: 1) They are backed by research. Studies show a positive change in children with these strategies in place 2) I have seen these strategies work when others have implemented them, and 3) They work for me with a 99% success rate as I have implemented these strategies for over 16 years.

Poor reading ability and literacy skills lead to reduced opportunities in life, and worse yet, "being illiterate is a guaranteed ticket to a dead end life with no skills and no future." For a step-by-step, easy to follow, and easy to understand lessons along with stories, rhymes, and colorful illustrations to make you and your child's learning to read process a fun, engaging, and rewarding experience - Click Here

When reading to your child, read slowly, and point to the words that you are reading to help the child make a connection between the word your are saying and the word you are reading. Always remember that reading should be a fun and enjoyable activity for your children, and it should never feel like a "chore" for them. Click here to help your child learn to read

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Now you can teach your child to read and make him or her develop critical, foundational reading skills that puts them years ahead of other children....even if they are having difficulties at learning to read! Visit Techniques for Teaching Reading

The first few years of life are the most important and critical for the development of literacy skills, and having a literacy-rich environment at home will ensure your child becomes a successful reader. Aside from reading to your child, specific instructions and teaching must be used to teach your child to read. For a simple, step-by-step program that will help you teach your child to read, visit Best Way to Teach Reading

Reading Makes Your Child Smarter, and Your Child Misses a GOLDEN Opportunity, If You Do Not Teach Your Child to Read Now. Discuss your child's reading problems on our forum. We can help you easily teach your child to read! Go to: Reading Forum