Homeschool Language Arts

10 Tips to Help Your Struggling Reader

Do you have a struggling reader? Whether you’re teaching a young child to read or helping a middle-schooler or even a high-schooler who has reading difficulties, it can be very stressful for both mom/teacher and child/student to deal with reading problems. There are things you can do to help lessen the stress and to help your struggling reader. I’ll list some things to try, and I would love to hear more tips and ideas from those of you who have suggestions for the rest of us!


1. Decide if your child is ready to learn to read.

Sometimes we get so excited about homeschooling and teaching our children that we simply start doing formal schooling earlier than we should. You may want to read this article called Is Your Child Ready to Learn to Read? These 10 Tips Can Help You Find Out! for more information on determining if your child is ready to learn to read.

2. Read aloud to that child…often!

3. Set realistic goals.

If you need to set smaller, more realistic goals, do it. If you set goals that take weeks to reach, you and your child will get discouraged.

4. Tell your child the goal each day.

Before you begin the day’s reading lesson, tell your child the goal that she’s working toward. After the lesson each day, be sure to point out progress she made toward that goal.

5. Don’t try to force your child to read faster.

If your child reads slowly, don’t try to get him to read faster. Speed will come with time and practice.

6. Use lots and lots of repetition.

If your child struggles with reading, you may need to have him practice the same words or stories over and over and over. It’s ok. Repetition helps to “cement” the information in his mind. Try to keep it fun, though, so he doesn’t get bored.

7. Teach/practice short vowels first.

After your child learns short vowels and 1-syllable words and can read them easily, then you can move on to long vowels. Most phonics programs do this for you, but it is something to keep in mind if you supplement or come up with your own practice words and sentences.

8. Use a multi-sensory approach.

Make sure you allow your child to use all of her senses when she’s learning to read. Some children learn best by seeing, some by hearing, some by touching things or doing things. Using a multi-sensory approach allows your child to use different senses, and that often increases learning and makes it more fun too!

9. Try to find books that interest your child.

If your struggling reader isn’t interested in the books or sentences you use in his instruction, he’s just not going to be very motivated to want to learn to read. Try to find books about topics that he particularly enjoys. And if books are intimidating to your child, have him or her read whatever looks interesting! Magazines, comic books, or even cereal boxes will work in the beginning.

10. Start out easy.

It’s often best to begin with a book that is below your child’s current reading level. That allows her to have some success with reading. Then slowly progress to more difficult books. By doing this, she will be more motivated to learn to read, and motivation can make a big difference! If possible, you don’t want reading to be a chore. It’s much better to start out easy and move slowly than to turn reading into a dreaded activity.

Do you have any tips for those who are teaching struggling readers? If so, please share them here! We would love to hear from you!

About the author


Wendy is one of the owners of Hip Homeschool Moms. She married her high school sweetheart, Scott, 28 years ago, and they live in the South with their three children. Hannah, age 23, has autism and was the first homeschool graduate in the family. Noah, age 22, was the second homeschool graduate. Mary Grace, age 16, is the remaining homeschool student. Wendy loves working out and teaching Training for Warriors classes at her local gym. She also enjoys learning along with her family, educational travel, reading, and writing, and she attempts to grow an herb garden every summer with limited success.


Click here to post a comment

  • Great tips! I totally agree that you should not speeding your child up when they read. It can make the whole process really frustrating and give reading negative connotations for them.

    Also finding interesting material for your child to read is very important.

  • I really love the Bob Books. When my child can read a book, we write their name and the date, and ……..can read this book. I also write the words on a post it, and have my child read the words with out the pictures. My oldest is dyslexic, so she struggle quite a bit. We just kept the faith, I would have to quit when frustration set in. Do not let not being able to read, delay learning. I read all of her other work to her, till she was able to get it on her own. In order to get her to try a chapter book, I bribed her with a kindle. If she would read a chapter book, I would buy her a kindle. It worked, but she has devoured the Harry Potter books, and stays up too late reading. It makes me so happy to see her read and enjoy it.

  • Yes, I had a struggling reader. I am a reading teacher turned homeschool Mom. I know how to teach reading so I never imagined I would have a struggling reader. God knows how to keep life interesting!

    I agree, age does not mean a child is ready to read. I stayed VERY positive with my son and took it slow. He NEVER knew he as a “struggling reader.” About age 8 things began to click. By age 9 he was reading independently with ease. He absolutely loves reading because it was never a chore or negative. He is an avid reader now, having just turned 10.

    I like your tips . . . Yes, read aloud EVERY day. Allow a child to read simple books at first. Find books and topics that interest the child!

    If you have a struggling reader, I encourage you to hang in there and keep it positive.

    • Jeannine, I think it’s great that your son never knew he was a struggling reader and that he loves to read now! I agree that he probably loves reading now because you never allowed the process to be seen as negative. I think so many of us get anxious and worried when our kids take a little longer than others to learn to read until our kiddos pick up on that and start to think of reading as being negative and stressful. Hooray for you and the great job you’re doing!

  • Thank you for your comment! I read the tips at the link you provided, and I especially liked #5 about making real world connections with the child’s reading. When I was teaching my son writing skills (how to correctly format a letter, how to indent, how to make sure his verb tense didn’t change in the middle of a paragraph or sentence, etc.), it made a huge difference with him when I had him write a letter to a video game company and write to a pen pal. Because he saw that writing was a skill he would need throughout his life, it made sense to him to learn to do it well. I think the same thing applies to reading. If the child sees it as something fun, helpful, and important, he will be much more likely to want to learn to read and to enjoy it! Thank you for sharing those tips with us!

  • Great advice/tips! Patience is a MUST!
    Our youngest has a hard time with reading. We actually started over with simple phonics at the kindergarten level. He is in second grade but was revealed to see words he knew and could read on his own. We started this back in July and he have already progressed through the beginner level. He is enjoying reading more and his confidence has soared. He is well on his way to getting “up to speed”.
    Keep your great articles and posts flowing. We all appreciate them.