Have you ever wondered why some kids learn to read quickly and easily and other kids struggle?
Researchers have spent years trying to determine the “why” behind struggling readers. The assumption, when it comes to reading, is that there must be one “system” or “method” that will help students build this skill.
So…then why do so many research studies on methods for teaching reading produce basically no valuable data?
The truth is that reading isn’t just about knowing how to sound out words or being able to memorize a billion words from the dictionary. (Yes.. that’s a honest-to-God teaching method.)
It’s actually about both…
It’s like playing the piano. How do these amazing piano players look at these little drawings placed on a series of lines and somehow translate that to placing their fingers in the correct location?
Even more interesting, how do they do that so quickly that they stay on beat and in time?
The simple answer is muscle memory. They’ve done it so many times that their brain interprets that image on that specific line as a movement.
But when they first get started, they have to slow down and think hard about those notes. It takes a lot of effort and “figuring out.”
In the EXACT SAME WAY, learning to read requires a fair amount of muscle memory. Muscle memory that can only be developed through a lot of time and sounding out.
But getting a struggling reader to practice, practice, practice can sometimes feel like pulling teeth.
Fortunately, with the resources at our disposal these days, it’s not actually all that hard to make reading feel fun and exciting for kids.
Below, I’m sharing my TOP 3 SECRETS that turned my struggling reader into an above average reader in only 6 months
#1 – Listen to Audiobooks as a family.
Now, you may be wondering how audiobooks help with reading. But the truth is, one of the most important parts of learning to read is learning to LOVE books and stories.
I mean, when was the last time you ever wanted to read an encyclopedia. But you better believe that you’ve wanted to read a magazine or watch your favorite show on Netflix. Why? Well, because you know that what’s inside is interesting and entertaining!
School teachers have a bad habit of turning reading into a “must do” (and sort of boring) activity. So kids often look at reading as a chore instead of an exciting adventure. Getting into a few good audiobooks together can help change this perception!
# 2 – Ask them to help you with things that require reading
Kids love to help you. It makes them feel important and needed. So when you ask them to find you the can in the cabinet that says “Lima Beans,” they’ll try… even if they hate to read.
We take this one a step farther and make our grocery trips into a bit of a game. Each kid gets a list that they have to read and then find the items. The child that finds the most is the winner and gets to pick the candy treat they’ll all get at checkout!
#3 (My kid’s favorite) Gamify their learning
Remember that learning to read requires a ton of repetition. And what’s the ONE THING that most kids would do for hours on end?
YUP… video games.
Finding a great video game that teaches kids to read can be a bit tricky, but if you can find one that your kids are interested in, you’ll find that reading becomes “easy” for them pretty quickly!
Our favorite gamified reading app ( by far) is The Night Zookeeper!
We tried finding a “gamified” reading experience for a long time. But a lot of the options out there were just a bit too “babified” for them.
They needed the skills being taught, but they wanted a more exciting game to play. When we found Night Zookeeper, my kids were so invested in the storyline they would rush home from school to play!
They had no idea that they were actually learning to read along the way!
If you’re looking for a good app for teaching your kids reading, you can grab a free trial of the Night Zookeeper here.
You’ll also get 50% off of a full year if you decide to keep it… and I think you will! (It’s seriously awesome.)
They have multiple stories that the kids can “read” (they do actually have to read.. but it feels more like they are playing.
In fact, it feels a bit like being in control of a tv show! That’s probably why my kids love it so much.
We hit the full screen button on the stories and they head off onto an adventure, trying to save the zoo from evil enemies.
Honestly, it’s probably one of the best gamified learning apps we’ve ever tried!
When kids are ENJOYING something, they’ll do it over and over again. That’s why this is probably the most effective thing you can do to help your struggling reader.
So jump over to their site and grab a free trial. Let your kids click around a bit in the game and just see how things go!