How to Manage Reading Homework: Tips and Strategies

How to help a struggling reader at home

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Does your school have reading logs, journal assignments, charts, or graphs? Do you have to swear a blood oath that your child read books this week? If your family is struggling with managing at-home reading expectations, here are some tips for how to help your child read better and manage the school’s reading homework assignments effectively.

Create Reading Habits

How to help a struggling reader at home
Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

Developing a lifelong habit of reading will open doors to careers, hobbies, and community opportunities that can enhance your child’s life. The power of fluent, wide, eager reading cannot be overestimated. If you’re trying to figure out “What can help my child read better?” you’re likely focused on getting this week’s assignment done and ending arguments about reading. Here are some ideas to take the pain out of at-home reading assignments and bring the joy of books to your household.

Choose the Right Books

Teachers often emphasize reading levels, indicated by letters or numbers on book covers, to help choose appropriate books for students. These levels can be useful for finding similar books and gauging difficulty. If you ask your child’s teacher for their “instructional reading level,” you’ll likely get a Guided Reading level (a letter) or a Lexile score (a number). Use these indicators to find books online organized by level, and assess how many sentences, paragraphs, and pictures are present to ensure comfort.

To be clear, reading levels are often not accurate, or not useful. But if you are totally unsure what shelves to look at in the library, knowing this piece of information will give you a starting point. Once you are in the right place, it’s much more important to choose books your child will find interesting.

However, the sky is the limit beyond levels. For example, a second grader might read higher-level books about Minecraft because it’s their favorite game, while a tenth grader might struggle with non-fiction due to a lack of background knowledge. Passion for a topic can enable children to read books “above their level.”

If your child struggles with assigned books, try decodable books like the Simple Words series or Bob Books, which match words they have learned to sound out. Core Knowledge Language Arts offers free “Skills” units with great decodable readers you can print. Flyleaf Publishing also provides free online decodable books.

Choose the Time and Place

Timing is crucial for reading homework. Here are some times that typically don’t work well:

  • While the rest of the family is watching TV
  • Right before dinner
  • In the car on the way to school

Better times for reading include:

  • After a snack
  • While siblings are napping or not home
  • During a “family reading time,” where everyone in the house sits down with a book, such as an hour before bed or after lunch on the weekend
  • In the waiting room at dance class or in the bleachers at a sibling’s practice, if the environment is quiet

Finding the Right Place for Reading Homework

Some kids love to curl up in a quiet corner and read until they’re told to stop. For others who struggle or avoid reading, adult support and attention are crucial. Sit beside your child at a table, on the couch, or in bed with good lighting, a comfy seat, and minimal background noise.

Looking for fun ways to fit more reading into your family’s life? Check out our free Reading Bingo Boards!

Make It a Habit

In his book Tiny Habits, BJ Fogg breaks down all habits into three parts: a trigger (anchor moments), a habit, and a reward. If getting your child to read every day seems out of reach, try these tiny steps:

  • Pick a trigger: “We will take out a book right after the table is clear from dinner.” or “As soon as her big sister starts basketball practice, we’ll sit in the bleachers and read.”
  • Set a tiny reading goal: A page, a paragraph, a sentence, or a word. Start with one more increment of reading than you’re doing now. The only way to get started is to start, so start tiny!
  • Decide on a reward: Find tiny, in-the-moment rewards for reaching initial reading goals. How will you and your child celebrate sitting down with a book together? A hug, a little dance, or a high five?

And Don’t Worry!

Be patient with yourself and your child. Teachers often don’t know your family situation and may plan assignments like reading homework for the whole class without considering individual circumstances. Keep the big picture in mind. You are raising your children to be happy, thoughtful, and well-educated individuals. The long game of teaching them to love reading and to look to books for inspiration, knowledge, and comfort counts more than the number of pages in their reading log.

Helping your child develop a positive reading habit and manage reading homework effectively is a journey. By creating a supportive environment and making reading a fun and consistent part of your family’s routine, you can help your child become a more confident and enthusiastic reader.

If your child is struggling with reading and writing, early intervention is the key to success. Contact us for a consultation to see how online Orton-Gillingham tutoring can help.

Managing at-home reading expectations
Reading is a homework assignment for many kids, but it’s not one-size-fits-all. Here’s how to build routines to get your child reading more at home.
Grab your FREE Reading Bingo Board here.

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