Reading Teacher

10 Free Ways to Help Struggling Readers

10 Free Ways to Help Struggling Readers

You’re staring at your computer screen, researching activities for your struggling reader. You click on something promising, only to find yourself - yet again - staring at a paywall.

Where are the free activities for struggling readers? you ask yourself.


It’s a question as old as the Internet. But over the years, teachers and parents have banded together to compile some of the best - and 100% free - resources and activities for early readers, many of which are available to anyone with internet access.


Today, we discuss some of the most common reading challenges that kids face, followed by 10 free ways to help struggling readers reach the next level of reading achievement.

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Reasons Why Kids Might Struggle With Reading


With any new skill, there are bound to be moments of challenge and frustration. Some of the most common reasons why your child might struggle with reading include:


  • Poor phonemic awareness, meaning that it’s especially hard for the child to recognize the sound units (phonemes) in spoken words
  • Challenges with decoding
  • Learning disabilities, such as dyslexia
  • Lack of time or motivation to read


These are just a few potential culprits for reading challenges, but of course, every child is different. It’s important to connect with your reader and their teacher to identify common patterns of struggle, as well as any social or developmental factors that may shape their reading journey.


Free Resources to Help Struggling Readers

1. Phonological and Phonemic Awareness Cheat Sheet


Reading teachers love these fun and free “cheat sheet,” courtesy of Teachers Pay Teachers. The worksheet keeps 34 of the essential phonological and phonemic skills in one place, and helps teachers track their students’ phonics development.


2. Teach Your Monster to Read


Inspire a struggling reader with the power of magical literacy games. In a single game, kids will cover everything from letters and sounds to reading full sentences. They’ll mingle with monsters while developing invaluable reading skills; and best of all, the computer version is completely free.


3. Free Children’s Stories


This website is committed to providing free E-books and audio stories for kids. When they’re practicing those pesky phonemes, audio stories are especially helpful for young ears to hear. You’ll find tales for kids ages 3-10, as well as middle school novels and rhyming stories.


4. Free Phonics Games and Activities


Due to COVID-19, many educators have generously shared their classroom reading resources online. This comprehensive E-book is an aid for any classroom or parent working with readers at home. You’ll find a unit’s worth of spelling activities, phonics games, and writing practices to engage readers of all skill levels.


5. Letterland Activity Bank


Letterland offers loads of free resources for readers and parents on their website. If you’re looking for no-fuss reading activities for home, simply pull a game from their handy activity bank. There’s Short Vowels Bingo, a Letter Hunt, and lots more, and each activity has a specific reading objective.

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Other Ways to Support Struggling Readers

1. Offer Specific and Positive Encouragement!


Sometimes, kind words and clear directions are the best way to support a struggling reader. Both parents and teachers can celebrate the small wins: while reading with your student, focus on what they do well, and observe what you like about their reading or spelling. For example: “You spelled the word like it sounds. Awesome listening!”


2. Share Your Reading Mistakes


Adult readers make mistakes, too. When you’re reading with a child, you can model good reading comprehension strategies, like re-reading a confusing sentence or looking up the definition of a tricky word.


If a young reader sees an adult encounter and overcome a reading challenge, they’ll feel more confident to navigate their own. And yes, reading together is almost always free - not to mention, lots of fun.


3. Be a Homework Helper


If you know your child is struggling with reading or any other academic areas, check in about their homework every day. For older students, it can help to sit down together and “chunk” their workload into manageable parts. As a parent, homework offers an easy way to support your child, track their progress, and communicate any concerns to teachers.


4. Celebrate Their Interests


If your child refuses to read a certain genre of book, it’s important to remember that all reading counts: comics, magazines, and dinosaur encyclopedias included. The more children enjoy the book they’re reading, the more excited they’ll be for the next one.


5. Visit the Library


Your local library is a treasure trove. Many libraries host children’s reading clubs, author visits, and other exciting activities that will push struggling readers beyond their regular routines. Get out of the house or the classroom and support your local library: it’s a win-win for your student and your community.

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  • It can be difficult to find effective resources for struggling readers, but some of the best reading resources are already online - and they’re 100% free.
  • Being a supportive and proactive adult is also free of charge. By taking time to connect with your child and their educators, you’ll be ready to help them navigate all of life’s challenges: reading included.

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