How to Overcome Reading Difficulties- Resources and Solutions
When you discover your child has a reading problem, the first thing you want is answers. You are confused and feel helpless as to how to help him, especially as a homeschool parent. I have been there! I have put together this post on how to overcome reading difficulties to provide you with solutions that can help.
I want to give you some places to go to find information and resources that will start answering some of those questions, as well as give you strategies and materials that can work with your child.
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What Are the Difficulties in Reading?
Unfortunately, when you are dealing with a child who is struggling to read, there is no simple diagnosis. There are many different reasons your child may not be able to read as easily as his peers. Below is a short list of the types of reading disabilities:
- Auditory Processing Disorder (ADP)
- Language Processing Disorder
- Non-verbal Learning Disabilities
- Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit
I have written a comprehensive article called What Are Reading Difficulties | How to Identify If Your Child Has One that will describe each of these in detail, along with their symptoms. I have also created a downloadable reading difficulties checklist to help you pinpoint the area your child may have weaknesses in. You can get it by filling out the form at the bottom of this page. This is important to determine so you can begin to research and gather information and tools to help him.
Can I Teach a Child with a Reading Disability?
You might be wondering how in the world you can teach a child with a reading problem. You can do it! If you have followed me for a while now, you probably know I have a master’s degree in special education, and you’re probably thinking that’s why I was able to help my son. Well, let me tell you a little story. I was not the one that caught my son’s dyslexia. Nope! I knew something was wrong, but it wasn’t until I took him to a behavioral optometrist that it was diagnosed.
Dyslexia was not something that was explicitly taught while I was studying for my master’s degree. I hope that has changed since then, but something tells me it probably hasn’t. They lumped all learning disabilities into one category, and that is not how it works. Each one has its own issues and needs to be addressed differently.
You always have the option to seek outside help, but you do not have to put your child into the school system to help him. In fact, I’m glad mine wasn’t. I taught in it, and I know what it’s like. I’m not badmouthing teachers. There a lot of wonderful ones and some of them are my best friends. I am referring to the system itself.
There are a lot of children in each classroom. Many of them have different learning/behavioral issues. There is no way a teacher can give these children the proper time and attention they need. In addition, they are taught in a traditional method, which is not the best learning style for these children to succeed. Their brains function differently. This isn’t bad, just different.
Think of adults in general. None of us are alike, and we all have different ways of doing things and gaining information. Why would children be any different? Yet the school system treats them all the same. This is not effective, just efficient.
The alternative to this oversized classroom approach is going to the special education room (which has its place in certain cases). Again, I have known some amazing special education teachers, but I don’t believe the children with learning disabilities need to be separated and embarrassed by having to go to a different room during the day to learn.
Even if they are included all the time, the other students know they get special education services. This has a massive effect on their self-esteem, which is already low. You can tell by the way these children look and act they think very poorly of themselves. I cannot imagine the humiliation these children experience when they feel so different from a whole classroom of children just because they aren’t being taught with the right methods. It’s not necessary.
Children with reading disabilities can learn. With the proper strategies to help their brain process information the correct way, they can adapt and overcome these obstacles. Most can and do go on to be successful adults with the right approach.
Reading Problems and Solutions
If you suspect your child has a reading problem, you need to find some answers to make the right decisions, along with solutions that work. If you are uncertain, fill out the form at the bottom of the page to get my Reading Difficulties Checklist to help you pintpoint a reading disability.
This is why I have put together this list of resources on how to help a child struggling with reading that will guide you in the right direction. I have split them into categories to make it easier to find what you are looking for.
The Gift of Dyslexia Bundle (I highly recommend this!)
This bundle contains:
- The Gift of Dyslexia Book
- CD with 9 PDF Workbooks for brain games-You can also create a 2D/Pop-up Book and 3-D Alphabet
- Reading Strips (12 PACK)-These are the color-coded strips that really help a child with dyslexia when reading.
- Finger Spacers
Homeschooling with Special Needs
Dianne Craft is a fantastic resource! I used The Brain Integration Therapy Manual with two of my children with excellent results! Her products are pricey but worth it! The exercises you do from the manual will be time-consuming for a few months, but it will pay off in the end. She did not have most of the other products when my son was little, and they would have been beneficial.
Behavioral Optometrist-A behavioral or functional optometrist is a great place to start if you think your child has a reading problem. This is not a typical eye doctor. In addition to a regular eye exam, your child will be tested for tracking issues, dyslexia and more. This is how my son was diagnosed. This article explains the importance of having your child’s eyes checked by one of these doctors and how it can pinpoint very specific problems.
Reading Resource– Helping Struggling Readers & Defeating Dyslexia
LDonline– This is a general guide for learning disabilities and ADHD.
My Learning Disability: A Love Story | Chandni Kazi | TEDxBerkeley- This a great 6-minute video about a girl who has a reading disorder but didn’t know it until she was in college. She explains how it affected her life and how much better everything was once she realized she had a learning disability and was able to learn things in the way her brain processed information.
Dyslexia Assist– Helpful dyslexia resources for parents and books to read aloud with your child to explain dyslexia.
Hampstead and Frognal Tutors– This site has comprehensive information and helpful strategies. It also includes tests, apps, and the latest technology to help Dyslexia sufferers better manage reading and writing.
Davis Dyslexia Correction: A Brief Explanation– This is a great article explaining the “mind’s eye” method used by Ronald David, author of The Gift of Dyslexia, which I have referenced in the above book section.
Doctor Dyslexia Dude! This is a graphic novel about an African-American boy who is also a colorful superhero with dyslexia. It was witten by Dr. Shawn Anthony Robinson based on his experiences growing up with dyslexia. This would be a great book to read to your child.
Auditory Processing Disorders
Language Processing Disorders
Non-verbal Learning Disabilities
Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficits
Learning Styles and Teaching Methods
Identifying Your Child’s Learning Style -Learning styles play a large role in how your child takes in information. Read this article to identify which way your child learns best.
Different Types of Teaching Methods– Different teaching methods can also affect how your child learns. Find out the different types there are and which would cater to your child.
Fluency- Bonnie Terry Reading– This is an excellent program I used with my son.
Visualizing and Verbalizing® Kit for Cognitive Development, Comprehension, & Thinking. This is another excellent program I used with my son! This link is for the whole kit, but they also sell the pieces individually. This is not a cheap program, but it does work.
Stevenson Learning– This is an amazing reading program! I used it with my son after trying four other programs. This is the one that made things click for him! If you have any questions as to which level to start with, don’t hesitate to call their 800 number listed on the site. More than likely you will speak directly with the creator of the program (like I did). He is very helpful and will take a lot of time with you to figure out what works best for your child’s needs. I have been very impressed with this company every time I called (and that was several times).
All About Reading – This reading program was not around when my son was little, but we started the spelling program when he was in middle school, and it was fantastic! I used it with my daughter as well, and I really believe they are much better spellers because of that. I have heard lots of great things about the reading program they have now. If it’s anything like the spelling program, it will be good.
Using colored overlays can really improve your child’s ability to:
- See what is on the page
- Read longer
- Feel more comfortable when reading
- Reduces visual perceptual problems
- Make the print clearer
- Improves comprehension
There are several options:
- Wide Reading Strips with Colored Overlay for Dyslexia, ADHD and Visual Stress
- Thinner Reading Guide Strips
- Full Page Color Overlays to Aid with Reading
Using clay or Play-doh to give meaning to little words that don’t make sense when reading. This is a big problem with dyslexic children.
Modeling Clay that is reusable
10 Pack of Playdoh with a good variety of colors
Audiobooks are a great tool! Just because your child may not be reading independently at grade level, does not mean he can’t listen to an audiobook at or above it to foster his love of reading and increase vocabulary and comprehension.
The following is a list of places you can find free audiobooks:
Librivox– Free public domain audiobooks- over 10,000 books.
Lit2Go– These are free online stories and poems to download in Mp3 format.
Open Culture– Children’s storybooks online – They have 1,000 free audiobooks for kids of all ages.
OverDrive– If you haven’t heard of this yet, you need to check it out. There are tons of free audiobooks you can check out online through your local library. I use this all the time!
Hoopla– This is another site where you can listen to audiobooks through your local library. I use this one as well.
Project Gutenberg– Free books that are in the public domain. They used to only offer a computer read series, but now there are books read by people as well.
Spotify– They now have an audiobook section that is being added to continually.
SYNC– These are audiobooks for teens. There is a program that offers free audiobooks throughout the summer.
Learn Out Loud– Over 10,000 free educational audio and video titles (over 2,000 are for kids).
Digital Book– This is geared towards teens and adults.
I hope this article has provided you with a wealth of information on how to overcome reading difficulties. I don’t want you to feel helpless as if the only option is to put your child into the school system if you don’t want to. That is a decision each family needs to make, and before you can do that, you need to be informed. I know it can be a scary thing to think about trying to educate your own child when there is a learning disability, but with the internet these days, there are so many resources available. With some time and effort, you CAN learn how to teach your child, and he is going to be better for it being able to be at home with a family that loves and supports him.
Are you homeschooling a child with a reading disability? What programs or resources have you found most helpful? Please list them in the comments below so others may learn about them.
If you would like to find out if your child has a reading disability, download my Reading Difficulties Checklist by filling out the form below.
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