Reading is the bedrock of all educational success, but it is not uncommon for young learners to struggle with this fundamental skill. Succeeding as a teacher requires an educational background "that specializes in advanced coursework designed to meet a variety of professional goals that address the literacy-learning needs of all students."
The Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction – Literacy Studies online program at The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) uniquely prepares teachers to overcome the challenges of the modern classroom and ensure that all students can achieve their academic goals.
Here are a few tips teachers and parents can use to help students improve their reading skills.
Start with What's Missing
Before you can help a struggling reader, you must first determine the cause of those literacy challenges. Instead of focusing solely on helping students reach a reading level, it is helpful to examine the problem in reverse to identify any problems they are facing that are hindering their ability to be a successful reader.
Phonological and phonemic awareness are two likely culprits when trying to root out the cause of a student's reading difficulties, so a basic assessment of those skills makes for an excellent starting point. Once you have identified the reason for a student's reading struggles, you can begin devising a strategy for bolstering any missing or underdeveloped skills.
Create an Environment Where Young Readers Can Build Confidence
Students are often hyper-aware of their literacy challenges, which can turn reading into something they dread. Forcing students to read at a level for which they are not fully prepared only intensifies this problem. Instead, teachers should identify a reading level the student finds more comfortable and use it as a training ground for developing any lacking skills. Praising students for any progress they make is also an excellent way to increase confidence in reading.
Teachers and Parents Should Work Together
Far too often, struggling readers can feel isolated from their peers or even siblings. It is easy for these students to feel alone and overwhelmed in the face of their literacy challenges. To combat this, parents and teachers should be transparent about working together to help students improve their reading skills.
Speak frankly with parents about their child's academic progress, strengths and areas of improvement. Show struggling students their teachers and parents have collaborated on a plan for improving their reading. Establish clearly defined goals and strategies for achieving them. Students have a better chance of thriving when explicitly supported by a collaborative partnership between their teachers and parents.
Find Books That Interest the Reader
It may sound overly simple, but sometimes, the key to helping young readers overcome their struggles is the content itself. Students are more likely to engage with reading material if they connect with a topic, theme or characters. A series of books makes an excellent choice because students will want to read more to find out what happens next. Essentially, create an enjoyable form of practice that will help students progress as readers.
Read to Children Regularly
Reading out loud to children gives young readers a chance to enjoy books beyond their skill level. These books typically have better-developed plots, more interesting characters and will be more likely to spark students' interest. When read to, children can pay more attention to what is happening in the book and let their imaginations take over. Reading aloud to students is also a great opportunity for adults to model effective reading habits — or assist with deciphering any difficult words or concepts.
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