One common concern I hear among teachers is that they grapple with helping their struggling readers. It can be really difficult to help these students when you want them to succeed so badly. I’m going to share 5 ways to help struggling readers this school year.
5 Ways To Help Struggling Readers
Find the gap and begin there
Most importantly, you need to find what your reader is struggling with. In order to further your instruction in a meaningful way with this student, you must determine what it is that’s keeping them where they are. Is it comprehension? Phonics skills? Phonemic awareness?
To really figure this out (although I bet you know from working with these students continuously), grab 2 books: one below their level and one on their level. Begin with the book below their reading level. Take notes about what you notice. This does not need to be fancy (but creating a chart with 2 sections may help you – see above). Jot down everything you notice: confidence, how they decode words, what they notice about the pictures, and what they could answer about the book when they were finished reading. Go a step further and organize your notes into stars and stairs (what they do well vs. what they could improve on).
Then on the next day (or when you feel your student is ready), your student can read the book on their level.
End this informal assessment by looking through your notes. What changes between the 2 readings? This will help you with figuring out where to start when you are instructing this reader.
Find books they love to read
Take a look at what your students are reading. Are they typically reading things like passages or books you choose for them? If so, it’s time to take a deep look into why you aren’t letting them choose. You will want to make sure you can find some books on their appropriate reading level (side note: students do not only need to read books on their reading level but should be reading what they enjoy too) that they are interested in reading.
More Ways To Help Struggling Readers
Use additional tools and visual aids
It’s important to find new activities to keep your struggling readers wanting to learn to read.
One game you can use to practice different phonics skills is our best seller, Pop The Balloon. To read more about Pop The Balloon, you can check out this blog post with frequently asked questions. To sum it up, your reader has a card. Then, they read the sounds or words inside the bubbles from bottom to top. Once they reach the top, they clap their hands once and say POP! like they popped the balloon by getting to the top. It sounds simple (and it is!), but it is very engaging and students love to practice phonics skills this way.
Download the free CVC version right here!
Build their confidence
More than likely, your struggling readers know they struggle. You want them to continue to love reading or grow to love reading, so make sure you are reading just the right books. Make sure it’s a book on their reading level and a book that will interest them.
Give your students grace
It’s important to give your students and yourself grace. Your students do not need to move a faster pace than they are ready for and they are trying their best, just like you are! It is okay, and normal, to have students who are struggling with reading. Plus, they have not had a normal school year in quite a while, if ever. Keep trying your best and encouraging them to do the same!