Reading is a vital part of learning. It’s a skill that allows a child to absorb information both at home and in school. If your child is lagging behind their peers in this department, they are at increased risk of academic, social, and emotional challenges.  This is why addressing the problem early is crucial!

If you aren’t sure exactly how to do that, then this article will help guide you. We’ve outlined a few effective ways you can improve your child’s reading abilities and address any difficulties they may have.

1. Read with your child or children every single day

You need to read with a struggling reader consistently every day. Build it into your routine – and consider building it in across your routine in multiple shorter sessions. This will allow you to train your child to appreciate the value of reading, which is essential in motivating them to do it on their own (without turning it into a chore or obligation).

2. Share your own struggles

If you had experienced a similar struggle with reading in your past, it would be very beneficial for your child to learn about this. This lets them understand that they are not alone in their problem and that the problem itself can be overcome with effort and patience.  Share things that took you a lot of practise – even if not related to reading – so children can learn that everyone has a unique profile of things they are good at and things they struggle with – and that hard work and persistence pays off.  Offer praise and reinforcement in other areas where your child experiences success more easily.  When it comes to reading and writing, reward effort rather than outcomes.

3. Give them reading material they like

You can’t expect your child to be motivated to read if all you give them is reading material that they have no interest in. Take the time to find out what they enjoy learning about, and provide books and other media within that area of interest.  Feel free to read with them above and below their level – don’t get stuck on reading boring levelled readers that have been selected for your child.  Never limit the literature you provide to your child – follow their ideas and interests!

4. Take it slow if you need to

Some children will show slow progress, and that’s totally okay. You need to practice patience and celebrate every small win so that your child is encouraged to push on. This also applies to the reading itself. Focus on problem words and letter sounds that they have difficulty with, and demonstrate how to read them correctly.  Moving too fast is a sure recipe for disaster.  Reading is a cumulative process built on layers of development.  We cannot move beyond foundational skills until they are learned.

5. Educate them on their condition

Some children with reading difficulties will struggle with dyslexia for their entire life. If your child has been diagnosed with this, it can be beneficial to be open and honest about this with them so that they know exactly what they’re dealing with.  Some children are empowered to learn about famous people who are succeeding in life while coping with Dyslexia.

6. Practice their spelling as well

Research shows that working on reading does not improve spelling; practising spelling, on the other hand, has been shown to improve not only spelling but also reading skills.

Reading requires “recognition” of words – it is like a multiple-choice test.  The answer is there if you can identify it.  Spelling, on the other hand, is like a fill-in-the-blank question.  If you don’t know the answer, you don’t know the answer!  Whereas reading requires decoding skills, the skill of spelling requires encoding.  Practising encoding teaches children the code, and therefore teaches them to decode as well.  Spelling instruction and practise is very valuable. 

Bear in mind we do not want children to simply memorize lists of words; rather, we want them to sound out words and put corresponding letters that make sense and are allowed to accurately spell words.

7. Teach them the meaning of new words

You should also remember to explain new words that your child will inevitably encounter as they read. Defining is a great skill, but many children will have more success learning new words in context.  Ask your child to use a word in a sentence so they can show not only the meaning of it, but how it can be used.  This is especially important for homophones. You can also provide them with a dictionary so that they can look them up on their own.


Reading with your child, giving them a chance to read, making it interactive, and working on associated skills such as spelling and word reading develop not just your child’s ability to read, but also their willingness to do so. Remember that you have to take action as early as you can, so follow these tips and seek additional support if you need it.

At Speak2Read, our trained reading specialists in Calgary are happy to help your child overcome their reading difficulties. Book an appointment with us today!