Help Your Differently-Wired Kids Fall in Love with Reading

Studies show a child who learns to read at four and a child who learns to read at nine or ten are very often reading at the exact same level by the time they’re 16. We want our kids to not only be able to read, but to enjoy reading and be able to glean new information when they do.

Today Sarah Mackenzie from Read-Aloud Revival and Colleen will be talking about everything reading. Sarah starts by discussing the core three ingredients for struggling readers, and then Colleen will chat about ways to engage your advanced readers.

Struggling and Dyslexic Readers

When you have a struggling reader it is hard.

Hard for them.

Hard for you.

Sarah has three ingredients to help you navigate.

The first and most important is frequent read-alouds. We know this from study after study that show grammatically correct, sophisticated language patterns coming through the ear will increase reading aptitude more than any other reading your kids do.

What’s interesting to remember is that when your child is reading with their eyes, they’re skipping a lot of stuff. A person’s eyes move in a pattern that’s not taking in every word. When a book is read aloud, all of that language is going into your child’s brain through their ears, and being stored in order.

The next ingredient is short, daily phonics lessons.  This is especially important for a child who is struggling to learn how to read because phonemic awareness skills are essential to decoding new words.

Short is very important so our kids don’t tune us out, stop paying attention, or put up that self-protective wall because the lesson is too long and challenging.

With struggling readers, an Orton Gillingham approach is often the key to helping –whether your kids are dyslexic or not. The Orton Gillingham method breaks down reading in a way that a dyslexic brain can understand. But a lot of the engaging programs that you can find in the homeschool world have long lessons.  You’ll want to set a timer and then put a post-it note where you need to pick it up the next day.

The last thing is the hardest of all: give it time. Just keep reading aloud and do your daily 10-minute phonics lesson.  The rest is out of your control. 

Advanced and Gifted Readers

As we transition into advanced readers, it’s important to note that some start slowly.  One of Colleen’s daughters is dyslexic and she’s highly creative with incredible ideas and imagination. She’s starting to take off, and she’s flying through everything. book-wise.

Other advanced readers will take off early, and they tend to enjoy the process of reading. So a gifted reader doesn’t just want to read; they like the way words work together. They like to make notes, study, and compare things because language is interesting.

These are the kids you want to talk to about what they’re reading.

It will not be possible to pre-read everything for your advanced readers. However, good readers will be great at self-censoring, especially if you talk to them about books early and often.

When they’re talking to you about what’s great about literature, they’re going to start seeing what’s maybe not great about the literature they’re picking up. They’ll stop reading things that don’t fit their values and ethics, and they’ll reach for rich text that tells a good story.

If your kids read a lot, let them read things that are heavy. Let them read things that are light. It’s not going to ruin your kids’ ability to read if they choose fluffy fun stuff because reading is better than not reading.

Isaac loves Diary of a Wimpy Kid. He read the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book the whole drive from Cleveland to Cincinnati.

Guess what? He wasn’t on his screen.

He was reading.

So sometimes fluff is okay.

But we also want to expose our advanced readers to many different genres and options, especially because they can often get themselves into a rut of what they like, and they don’t want to break out of it.

One last thing to note is that reading with your ears and reading with your eyes are just two different modes of reading. It’s not true that if you read with your eyes, you’re understanding more than with your ears.

If you aren’t sure where to start, the show notes have reading programs and book lists to help you.

Raising Lifelong Learners Episode #208: Help Your Differently-Wired Kids Fall in Love with Reading

Today we’re doing something different — we’re sharing a talk that Colleen gave at the Great Homeschool Convention with Sarah Mackenzie of Read Aloud Revival. They address both sides of the reading spectrum, with Sarah discussing struggling readers and then Colleen shifting the conversation to advanced readers.

You will leave with ideas and strategies that will help your kids wherever they are.

Links and Resources