Learning Disorders: Reading Below Grade Level

Your child has a learning disorder and is reading below grade level. You wonder if there is any way to get him back on track. You wonder if he’ll always struggle. Don’t despair. There are ways to help your child become more fluent, gain comprehension, and increase his reading levelreading

Not only will daily reading (any reading: one-on-one, independent, listening) increase your child’s literacy skills, but there are many reading activities that will also help improve your child’s basic reading skills. Simple games such as letter concentration, crossword puzzles, word bingo, and even hangman can be beneficial when it comes to reading and spelling. Having fun while learning is just an added bonus.

There are many types of reading games and resources available. Researching them can be overwhelming. Here are a few to get you started:

Matching Games (Letter Concentration) 
There are many variations to this game. A simple version: Write a single word on each of ten index cards. (You may want to use that week’s spelling list, sight words, or vocabulary as additional reinforcement.) Repeat this step with a second set of index cards. (A variation: Glue pictorial representations of the words to the second set of index cards.) Mix up the cards and place them face down on the table or floor. Take turns with your child, matching the correct pairs together while saying the word aloud.

Word-Sound Games 
Use picture cards with objects that have three separate sounds (cat, dog, sun, etc.). Place them facedown and ask your child pick one. Instruct her to say and spell the word before practicing each sound. Take turns doing this-and be sure to occasionally make a mistake. Allowing your child to recognize your error and correct you will not only build confidence, but will encourage critical thinking.

Scavenger Hunts 
These games are fun for kids and can be easily adapted to your child’s needs. Instruct your child look around the house for vocabulary words. Depending on age and ability level, adapt the activity: say the word out loud, write the word, use it in a sentence. Variations include finding objects in the house that rhyme or words that share the same sound or begin with the same letter. If you’re going to take a field trip or a play date, create a word list in advance. For example, if you are planning a trip to the zoo, create a small word list with items like popcorn, monkey, turtle, snake-and let your child check off each item once you find them.

Other popular games include hangman, word bingo, and word search puzzles. These can all be adapted to the reading level of your child and can be easily created or personalized online.

There are many fun and effective activities to help a child that is reading below grade level increase his skills. Don’t get stuck wondering how to help your child. Plan a reading activity instead. And if you and your child are still struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Verticy is a joint learning initiative of Calvert School and Jemicy School. Rekindle your student’s love of learning with Verticy. You can learn more about Verticy Learning on the Calvert Education website.

Crystal Pratt is Calvert Education Services’ Social Communications Specialist.  She has been involved in education for 20 years.  Crystal is a certified teacher, a writer, and a lover of all things that sparkle.