How to Help Your Child Overcome Their Reading Challenges

tips for overcoming reading challenges

Is your child having lower test scores than the average student on topics such as reading and writing? Are they getting frustrated with or losing interest in reading with you or in class? They may have reading challenges, such as having a hard time speaking out written words or comprehending what they are reading. This article will briefly explain what skills your child needs to read, common reading challenges that children have, and how to help your child overcome their reading challenges.

How to Be a Good Reader and Common Reading Challenges

What Skills Does My Child Need in Order to Become a Good Reader?

Firstly, to understand why many children have reading challenges, you first must understand how reading works.

To be a good reader, or have good reading comprehension, you need to be good at:

  • Word recognition, or having phonological awareness (understand syllables, word parts and their individual sounds-phonemes.), the ability to decode (being able to spell out words), and sight recognition ( to be able to recognize commonly used words like “an” and “the” just by looking at them) while you are reading, and;
  • Language comprehension, or having the knowledge of a story’s environment, being able to understand and interact with what you’re reading verbally, understanding the literacy concepts and being able to pick them out while you’re reading, and being able to learn and understand the vocabulary of what you’re reading, which all comes from life experiences.

What are some common reading challenges that children like mine can have?

Some common reading challenges children have may include:

  • Having poor simple comprehension, or not being able to understand how the language that the child is reading is structured or supposed to sound.
  • Lacking the ability to connect letters with the sounds that they make, called phonemes, or other internal word structures due to auditory processing disorders. This is especially common for children who have health conditions such as Turner Syndrome.
  • Struggling with spelling and decoding, and thus struggling with blending and hearing sounds together to make words due to health conditions like Dyslexia.  If not worked on, this can lead to poor reading comprehension, background knowledge and vocabulary usage later on.
  • Having trouble reading since English is not the child’s first language.
  • And others

How to Help Your Child Overcome Their Reading Challenges

What can I do if I believe that my child is having reading challenges?

If you believe that your child is having reading challenges, you can: 

  • First and foremost, be an advocate for your children.
  • Build and grow a positive relationship with your child’s school. Connect with their teachers, the school’s counselors, psychologists, principal, assistant principal, etc.
  • Save important class work and test scores to show how your child is performing. This will help you prove that they are having reading challenges that should be examined.
  • Know that every beginning of the school year, every child is screened for reading difficulties.
  • After the screening, if your child is considered at risk for reading difficulties, they may be considered for intervention by a reading specialist. This intervention will have your child be put into a small reading group.
  • If they are not progressing in the group, your child may be evaluated via diagnostic testing by a school psychologist. This will help them see what underlying reading issues they have and if there’s a learning disability that is causing it.
  • If your screened child was not seen as at risk, or was not referred by a teacher to intervention, but you feel that something’s wrong with your child, request this evaluation.
  • Additionally, you can seek an outside evaluation as well, but just know that it usually comes with a financial cost.

What can I do to help my child overcome their reading challenges if they are diagnosed with them?

If you find out that your child has specific reading challenges, you can:

  • Ask your child’s classroom teachers, reading specialists, special education teachers, and administrators how they can help your child overcome their reading challenges.
  • Furthermore, ask them what you can do at home to help your child.
  • Read to your child from the start and foster a love for reading.
  • Make it a regular routine, such as a reading for 5-10 minutes before your child’s bedtime.
  • If you have a toddler, pick a short story and read it in sections throughout the day. This will account for their short attention span and therefore get them more engaged with reading as a result.
  • Regarding what stories you should read, especially for your toddler, stories with repetition are the best. They are good since you can encourage them to finish the story’s phrases.
  • Be interactive. Act the story out with your voices or movements! Point things out, ask questions, name things in the pictures, sing silly songs! Have fun with it!
  • Read over and over again with them.
  • Point out the print. This shows them that you’re not just making up the story, but you’re following the words on the pages.
  • Use life experiences that you have with your child to discuss word play, homophones(words that sound the same but mean different things) homonyms(which are words that look and sound the same, but have different meanings), and vocabulary.
  • Furthermore, whenever your child has new interests or is about to have new experiences with you, find things to read that relate to these interests or experiences.
  • Pick the right book for your child using the 5-finger rule. If your child reads 100 words but makes five or more errors, the text may be too difficult for them to read. An ideal book that one that is challenging enough where they can test their skills to figure out new words, but is not too frustrating to read.
  • Use children’s magazines like Highlights, or magazines about what your child is into, like cars magazines to help your child learn how to read.
  • Use the internet to help your child learn. Websites like,,,,, and are great resources.
  • Instead of correcting your child right away, have them reread sentences they messed up on to correct themselves.
  • Have your child review new words, point out related words with similar meaning, spelling, and sounds (synonyms, homonyms, and homophones).
  •  Give opportunities for them to write stories. These can either be their own ending or beginning to a story that they have read or stories they make up themselves.
  •  Bring new books to read all the time with your child and get them excited to read it.
  • Take turns reading with your child.
  •  Play word games.
  • Talk with them while using interesting vocabulary words to help them learn new words.
  • When your child gets older, use books as gifts for your child.
  • Visit the library with your child and teach them how to use the library.
  • Teach your child how to use the dictionary and use guide words.
  • As your child gets older, expose them to different genres of books, like fiction, nonfiction, mystery, and fantasy books.
  • Have them summarize different parts of the story and make predictions on what they think is going to happen next. This makes it interactive and helps you understand if they think they understand what you’re reading.

Overall, as you can see, there are many reasons why that your child may be having reading challenges, but fortunately, there are many ways that you can help your child overcome them!

About the Webinar

Want to learn more about how to help your child overcome their reading challenges, such as:

  • Why these reading challenges occur;
  • How to help your child grow their reading skills as they go through different grades; and
  • How reading works on a more in-depth level?

Sign up for our FREE recording of a previously held webinar, The Science of Reading, with guest speaker, reading specialist, Sharon Shary!

About the Speaker, Sharon Shary

Sharon Shary is the guest speaker for this webinar. During the course of almost two decades, she worked as a special education and title 1 reading specialist.  Diagnosed with Turner Syndrome right before she turned 12 years old, she made it her mission to help children with reading challenges like her overcome them. She retired this past year.

Written by Elizabeth (Liz) Rivera, TSF intern and blog post writer.

Sources used to write this article:

The Science of Reading Webinar

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