Modifications to Help Struggling Readers
Do you have a child who is struggling with reading? Maybe your child might have a diagnosis of dyslexia or another reading disorder. Since reading is one of the most important skills a student can have, it is vitally important that reading skills are taught in a way that the struggling reader can use and understand. Sadly, this doesn’t often happen in crowded classrooms where there isn’t a lot of time available to use a multi-sensory approach to teach reading skills in a way that can be understood by a poor reader.
Whether your child has an IEP or is just struggling to read, there are some modifications and tips that can help. Keep in mind that if your child doesn’t have an active IEP that the school is not responsible for providing modifications, but it sure doesn’t hurt to ask.
Following are some modifications and tips to help your struggling reader succeed:
Allow the student to use a reading window. These can be purchased or made out of an index card. The student is only able to read through the open rectangle, which he/she slides over the print. All too often poor readers bring other letters and words up or down into the sentences they are reading.
Sometimes a colored overlay can help. You can try different colors with your child. I haven’t personally had great results with this, but I do know that color can help.
Put a clear plastic report cover over the print. Have the student read while using a colored marker, moving the marker along with each letter or word as he/she reads it.
Timed readings can be beneficial as a progress marker, but if your child is being timed daily, please have this stopped. Timed readings where the student feels pressure to read a certain amount of words per minute only leads to sloppy reading where the student guesses at words just to be a fast reader. We use timed readings once a month, just to have a basis of the student’s progress. Any more than this can be stressful for the student.
If the student is uncomfortable reading out loud in front of the class, don’t allow it! I have talked to so many students who have been made to feel dumb by reading out loud in front of peers. They are often teased because of this, and this turns them off to reading. Being a poor reader does not mean the student is dumb. It means that the reader isn’t being taught in the correct manner.
Make sure that your child’s reading program is rich in phonemic awareness. Most poor readers learn to memorize words instead of sounding them out, and this creates word guessers. It is too laborious to remember every word in the English language.
If your child is assigned reading at home for homework, break it into chunks. You read one page or paragraph and have your child read the next. Continue taking turns.
You can use a blank sheet of paper and cover up part of the print that the student is reading.
Have your child read assignments on an e-reader like Kindle or Nook if possible. Set the print to the largest setting and have your student read in that manner. It isn’t too intimidating to see the small window to read and success can be met. Slowly make the print smaller.
There are many other modifications or accommodations that can be useful for your child if he/she is struggling to read. Just remember that you are the best advocate for your child and don’t be afraid to speak up so that reading can be a successful experience.