How to Help a Child with Reading Difficulties: Guide for Parents on How to Help Kids and Struggling Readers

Every parent dreams of seeing their child flip through the pages of a book with ease and excitement.

But what if your child faces hurdles in reading?

It’s a roadblock many parents encounter, but fear not! After all, reading is not just about decoding letters and words; it’s about comprehension, building knowledge, and developing a lifelong love for learning.

This guide aims to offer you practical tips and empowering strategies to assist your child with reading difficulties at home, making this journey smoother and more enjoyable for both of you.

Image illustrating the theme 'how to help a child with reading difficulties', featuring a classroom with a cozy reading nook. The scene includes plush cushions, a variety of colorful books, and educational tools, creating a comforting and inviting atmosphere for young learners.

How to Help a Child with Reading Difficulties at Home

Assisting your child with reading difficulties at home requires patience, understanding, and, most importantly, a supportive environment. Here’s how you can make a significant difference:

  1. Create a Reading Routine: Set aside a dedicated time each day for reading. This helps to establish a routine and signals to your child that reading is an important and enjoyable part of their day.
  2. Choose the Right Books: Select books that match your child’s interests and are appropriate for their reading level to keep frustration at bay and engagement high.
  3. Read Aloud Together: Reading aloud isn’t just for tiny tots. It can be a powerful tool for older children too, as it allows them to enjoy stories beyond their reading capabilities and enriches their vocabulary.
  4. Listen to Audiobooks: Integrate audiobooks into their reading practice. Auditory exposure to literature can reinforce decoding skills and fluency while also offering a different mode of enjoying a story.
  5. Discuss the Content: Encourage discussions about the books you read. This reinforces comprehension and allows you to gauge how well your child is understanding the material.
  6. Incorporate Technology: Use reading programs like Hooked on Phonics, which can make learning to read fun and interactive.
  7. Praise and Encouragement: Always encourage your child and praise their efforts. A little motivation can go a long way in boosting their confidence.

By taking these steps, you create a supportive foundation for your child’s reading journey, making the process less of a chore and more of a shared adventure.

Supporting Kids’ Comprehension Skills

Enhancing your child’s comprehension skills is pivotal for them to grasp the full meaning of texts and enjoy the reading experience. Here’s how you can offer support:

  1. Teach Key Vocabulary: Before tackling a new book, go over some key words that your child will encounter. This preps them for a smoother read and removes obstacles that might interrupt comprehension.
  2. Ask Open-Ended Questions: While reading, pause to ask questions that require more than a yes or no answer. This encourages deeper thinking and dialogue about the story.
  3. Use Visual Aids: Visual aids like charts, pictures, and maps related to the story can help your child better understand and remember details.
  4. Connect Text to Life: Relate the stories and topics to your child’s own experiences. This personal connection can enhance understanding and retention.
  5. Retell the Story: After reading, have your child recount the story in their own words. This helps consolidate their understanding and gives you a chance to correct any misconceptions.
  6. Follow a Multi-Sensory Approach: Engage your child’s senses by having them draw scenes from the story or act out parts of the text, deepening their comprehension through active involvement.

Implementing these strategies facilitates a more comprehensive grasp of what your child reads, turning potential frustration into accomplishment and satisfaction.

classroom focused on early reading assessments. The room includes a reading corner with age-appropriate books, phonics tools, and educational posters illustrating early reading milestones.

Identify Reading Difficulties Early

Catching reading difficulties early is fundamental to providing the right support before challenges grow. Keep an eye out for signs of reading struggles, which might include:

  1. Difficulty Decoding: Notice if your child struggles to sound out words or consistently mispronounces words.
  2. Problems with Fluency: Be aware of their reading pace. Halting, choppy reading can be a sign of underlying difficulties.
  3. Limited Comprehension: If your child frequently cannot recall or summarize what they’ve read, this might indicate a deeper issue.
  4. Avoidance of Reading: Pay attention to whether your child avoids reading or displays frustration and anxiety when it comes to books.

Observing and identifying these concerns as early as possible allows for timely intervention that can greatly improve your child’s reading outcomes. Remember, assessing reading difficulties isn’t about labeling your child; it’s about understanding their unique challenges and providing the specific support they need to overcome them.

Strategies for Helping Struggling Readers

To support struggling readers, you can implement several evidence-based strategies, each aimed at reinforcing different aspects of the reading process:

  1. Explicit Phonics Instruction: Break down the sounds that each letter makes and how they blend to form words. This systematic approach builds a solid foundation for decoding new words.
  2. Multi-Sensory Techniques: Utilize touch, sight, and sound to help your child connect language with physical sensations. Sand trays for writing out words or cutting out letters can strengthen memory retention.
  3. Scaffolded Support: Start with more assistance and gradually reduce it as your child gains confidence. For instance, you might begin by reading a sentence and having them repeat after you, then progress to taking turns reading.
  4. Repetition and Practice: Encourage frequent practice with familiar texts to improve fluency. This reinforcement helps solidify their skills.
  5. Guided Reading Sessions: Work with your child in small, focused reading sessions where you can guide and correct them as they read.
  6. Use of Graded Readers: As recommended by literacy experts, graded readers allow children to progress at their own pace, with texts suited to their reading level.

These strategies, combined with your dedication and support, can transform reading from a struggle into a rewarding journey towards literacy.

Consult with Schools and Other Parents

When faced with a challenge, joining forces with others can often lead the way to solutions. Here’s how collaboration can play a role in supporting your child’s reading journey:

  1. Engage with Educators: Schedule regular meetings with your child’s teachers to discuss their progress and strategize together. This partnership is crucial for consistent support across home and school settings.
  2. Connect with the PTA/PTO: Attend Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) or Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) meetings to share experiences, gather insights, and learn about resources that other parents have found helpful.
  3. Seek out Specialists: If the issue persists, consider consulting reading specialists within the school or look for recommendations for private tutors or educational therapists who specialize in literacy.
  4. Learn from Other Parents: Explore parent forums like LD OnLine to exchange tips and resources with parents across the country facing similar challenges.

Remember, you’re not alone in this, and there is a community out there ready to offer support and share in your commitment to your child’s reading success.

FAQs About Helping Children with Reading Difficulties

How Can I Help My Child Enjoy Reading?

Encouraging a love for reading in your child boils down to making it a positive and enjoyable experience. Give them the freedom to choose books that speak to their interests, even if it’s not the literature you would have picked. Set a gleeful example by letting them see you engrossed in your own reading adventures. And why not mix it up with a bookstore scavenger hunt or by gifting books on special occasions? By aligning reading with joy and discovery, you’re setting the stage for a lifelong love affair with books.


What Should I Do If My Child Continues to Struggle Despite My Help?

If your child continues to struggle with reading despite your best efforts, consider seeking additional support. Start with a comprehensive evaluation to pinpoint specific areas of difficulty. This might involve working with the school to access evaluations and resources or seeking help from an external specialist. Don’t hesitate to explore individualized education programs (IEPs) or 504 plans if your child has a diagnosed learning disability. Most importantly, maintain open communication with educators and support your child’s learning journey with consistent encouragement and patience.


Are There Any Specific Programs or Methods Recommended for Struggling Readers?

Yes, there are specific programs and methods recommended for struggling readers. Programs such as Orton-Gillingham, Wilson Reading System, and Read Naturally are designed to support children with dyslexia and other reading difficulties. They often use structured literacy approaches that are systematic, explicit, and multisensory. It’s essential to choose a method that aligns with your child’s unique needs, and sometimes a combination of programs can work best. Consult with reading specialists or educators to understand which resource might be most effective for your child.


Equipping your child to navigate reading difficulties with confidence is no small feat, but it’s a journey worth every step.

As you apply these strategies and engage with the broader community of educators and parents, remember that progress in reading may not happen overnight. Your patience, understanding, and unwavering support make all the difference.

Keep celebrating the small victories, stay consistent in your efforts, and trust that with time and the right resources, your child can and will improve.

Here’s to the moments ahead when your child’s face will light up with the joy of reading a new book all on their own!