Reading is the bedrock of all educational success, but it is not uncommon for young learners to struggle with this fundamental skill. Therefore, a teacher’s success requires an educational background that builds an “understanding of issues related to reading instruction and assessment with research-validated strategies and assessment tools that will help you meet the needs of individual learners.”
The online Master of Science in Education (MSEd) with a Concentration in Reading and Literacy with Endorsement program from Southern Oregon University (SOU) uniquely prepares teachers to overcome the challenges of the modern classroom and ensure that all students can achieve their academic goals.
Here are a few tips teachers and parents can use to help students improve their reading skills.
Start With What’s Missing
Before you can help struggling readers, you must determine the cause of their literacy challenges. Instead of focusing solely on assisting students to reach a reading level, it is useful to examine the problem in reverse to identify any problems hindering their ability to be successful readers.
Phonological and phonemic awareness are two likely culprits when trying to root out the cause of a student’s reading difficulties, so a basic assessment of those skills makes for an excellent starting point. Once you have identified the reason for a student’s reading struggles, you can devise a strategy for bolstering any missing or underdeveloped skills.
Create an Environment Where Young Readers Can Build Confidence
Students are often hyper-aware of their literacy challenges, which can turn reading into something they dread. Forcing students to read at a level they are not fully prepared for only intensifies this problem. Instead, teachers should identify a reading level the student finds more comfortable and use it as a training ground for developing any lacking skills. Praising students for their progress is also an excellent way to increase confidence in reading.
Teachers and Parents Should Work Together
Far too often, struggling readers feel isolated from their peers or even siblings. As a result, it is easy for these students to feel alone and overwhelmed in the face of their literacy challenges. To combat this, parents and teachers should be transparent about working together to help students improve their reading skills.
Speak frankly with parents about their child’s academic progress, strengths and areas of improvement. Show struggling students that their teachers and parents have collaborated on a plan to improve their reading. Establish clearly defined goals and strategies for achieving them. Students have a better chance of thriving when explicitly supported by a collaborative partnership between their teachers and parents.
Find Books That Interest the Reader
It may sound overly simple, but the content is often the key to helping young readers overcome their struggles. Students are more likely to engage with reading material if they connect with a topic, theme or characters. A series of books makes an excellent choice because students will want to read more to discover what happens next. Essentially, create an enjoyable form of practice that will help students progress as readers.
Read to Children Regularly
Reading out loud to children gives young readers a chance to enjoy books beyond their skill level. These books typically have better-developed plots, more intriguing characters and will be more likely to spark students’ interest. When read to, children can pay more attention to what is happening in the book and let their imaginations take over. Reading aloud to students is also an excellent opportunity for adults to model effective reading habits — or assist with deciphering difficult words or concepts.
SOU’s online MSEd with a Concentration in Reading and Literacy with Endorsement program can prepare you for a career helping young readers improve their skills and learn to love reading in the process.