Learning to read empowers our children to read to learn, but it’s not always an easy goal to achieve. 

We’ve always believed that home education is not just about academics, but about developing good character traits in both parents and children.

In our weekly video chats on YouTube, we’ve been focusing on choosing your hard.

As parents we get stretched and challenged to persevere at times, but sometimes, just relaxing and letting go (also hard) is an alternative solution.

Since we often get questions from parents who are struggling or unsure about how to help their children to learn to read.

Here the recent video we chat which inspired us to also write these 8 tips when learning to read is hard:

1. Wait

Some children are ready and show an interest in reading learn as early as age 5 and some as late as 9 or 10. A few are even outside of those boundaries. If your child is not interested in formal phonics and reading lessons or they are just an absolute struggle with tears and frustration, you could just wait.

While you wait, you could continue to help your child learn about the phonic sounds that each letter makes ‘organically’ in the same way that you probably taught him colours, the names of animals and things, counting and even how to speak.

Just talk about the letter sounds you see around you as you go through your day …on product packaging of groceries (e.g M is for “milk”, M-I-L-K and show them the letters on the milk container), in the car (S for S-T-O-P on the stop sign) and everywhere you go (P for Pick ‘n Pay or W for Woolworths or whichever supermarkets you visit).

2. Read aloud together

Gather your kids around and read aloud together until they are adults. With non-readers, they pick up many pre-reading skills while you read to them. Here are 6 reasons stories are better than textbooks as tools for learning.

3. Play games

You can play games like these:

  • I-spy using phonic sounds
  • get some alphabet cards and play snap or matching games with them.
  • Spot letters on car license plates or road signs from A to Z and teach them the alphabet while you are having fun.
  • Get alphabet fridge magnets and make words on the fridge.

Here are some fun preschool reading games for little ones.

4. Use online games (with limits)

There are many sites that offer children reading practice, some free and some paid. Our kids loved the activities at Starfall which is free.

5. Keep lessons short and easy

Don’t make learning to read a struggle by pushing your child beyond his concentration span or ability level. If you practice phonics and reading, keep lessons to about 10 minutes and at a level that your child easily masters so that he grows in confidence and feels competent in what he reads.

6. Test eyesight and hearing

If you have been doing all of the above and still feel that there is very little progress, get your child’s eyesight and hearing tested. Children who have been sick a lot in their early years or suffered from ear infections often have delays in their auditory development. A test will either help you diagnose these problems and enable you to change your strategy or rule out any problems and give you the peace of mind that you need to be patient and persevere.

7. Free phonics resources

A useful tool that’s free for helping children learn to learn phonics and reading is the series of free printable readers from www.progressivephonics.com
The booklets have intermingled text in two colours – one colour for the child to read and one for the adult so that you can read together and can enjoy more interesting passages than “the cat sat on the mat.”

8. Don’t compare and don’t give up

Just like children don’t all learn to walk and talk at the exact same age, children don’t all learn to read in the year they turn 7 as the school system requires. Give your children the freedom to develop according to their own timeline. Many homeschool moms with late readers will tell you that they eventually learn to read in their own time and without a struggle if you just wait it out….but we know, that’s hard!

This hard season is a time to develop patience and perseverance in your own character so that you are a role model for your children.

With patience and perseverance, all things that at first seemed difficult become easy.  Just keep on.