Working With Your Developing Reader at Home

SHEMESH Parent: My child gets very frustrated when reading with me, maybe he is tired but I want to practice with him in the most effective manner.  What would be the best way to practice every night without him getting frustrated?

SHEMESH Reading Intervention Provider: I have a 1st grader at home myself so I completely appreciate the struggle you describe.  Here’s a couple of tips I use when working with her:

1. No stress- I used to get so stressed out when she couldn’t read a word that I thought should be easy for her.  She could totally feel the stress and usually would just get seriously stuck and unable to read as a result.  She also didn’t enjoy reading so much because of the stress.  I had to remind myself, and really comes to terms with recognizing, that she will absolutely learn to read and her current reading ability does not reflect on me as a parent in any way.

2. Set a timer- In addition, I started using a timer so that we could focus on simply reading for 10 minutes a day.  There is no emphasis on how many pages she gets through or how many words she needs help with.  The timer helps me too.  It reminds me again that this is just 10 minutes of reading, nothing more.

3. Make it enjoyable- I try hard to be relaxed and happy when reading with my daughter.  She has come to love this quality, fun time together.  It is really an opportunity to be together and enjoy each other’s company.  I also let her have a special snack while we work together, as she seems to enjoy this.  Obviously, she can’t eat and read at the same time, so she’ll usually eat a little before and finish the snack after, but she feels more relaxed with her snack in hand.

4. Use real books- It’s totally okay to read the hard words for your child.  The real books are just so much more motivating and the kids are so excited to actually be reading them.  Usually, when the 10 minutes are up, my daughter will beg to read more of the story.  Most of our favorites are from the An I Can Read Book series Level 1.  To help with words that have endings that make the words more difficult to read, I like to cover the ending with my finger (e.g. ing, s, ed, er, ly) so that the word becomes readable and then I add the ending on after the root word is read.  After a while, your child will be able to do this himself.

5. Incentivize- After a whole week or 2 of reading every night, I give my daughter a small prize.  It’s just one more motivational factor for her.

I hope these tips are helpful to you.  You may find that some reading sessions are just more difficult than others and that’s okay.  The key is to just keep plugging away at it.