5 Tips for Helping Boys Improve Their Reading Skills

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My oldest son has struggled with reading since day one. Starting in Kindergarten his teacher stated he was behind the other kids, but not to the point of getting him a tutor. This was the same story until third grade when we were met with the third grade guarantee.

Our state requires children to read at a specific level before they can move on to fourth grade. After years of hearing Lane was struggling with reading, but not to the point of the school stepping in to help, we were terrified of the third grade guarantee. We consulted a couple of reading programs outside of school and they were all really expensive. We tried tutors, but no one in our area was taking on new kids. We did so much research on the Internet; my head hurts still thinking about it! Finally we talked to a fourth grade teacher who lived across the street from us and got some ideas.

With the help of our neighbor, and some trial and error, the below 5 tips helped Lane to not only pass third grade, but to excel in fourth grade. Seriously, he is now a reading buddy to kindergartners!

Find Material Your Son Likes to Read:

It doesn’t matter if your son is reading magazines, books, or cereal boxes. Find something your son enjoys reading. Lane has always wanted to be in the military. For Christmas we asked everyone to buy him books about the military. He received books about military dogs, guns, World War II, Pearl Harbor, everything about the military! This helped keep him interested in what he was reading.

Tip: Amazon and Goodreads are wonderful sites to find what books are appropriate for your child’s age group. After you have your list of books, head to the library to save money!

Rewards:

It doesn’t matter what the reward is, big or small. Reward your son for reading. Our reward for Lane was time spent reading = time spent playing the Xbox. We took a set of golf balls and placed them in a jar. Next, we had an empty jar to transfer the golf balls into. For every 5 minutes Lane read, he was able to transfer 1 golf ball into the empty jar. The goal was to read 20 minutes each day. This system allowed him to break those 20 minutes into 5-minute increments.

Give Him Breaks:

Lane has ADD so it tough for him to sit for 20 solid minutes and read. Instead he reads for 5 minutes, has a 2-minute break (to put his golf ball in the jar and to jump around, run in place, whatever). Then we’re back to reading for the next 5 minutes.

Read to Your Son:

Over the summer we decided to read to the kids in the evening. We would read 1 or 2 chapters a night, depending on the chapter size. The kids would take their shower, brush teeth, and then settle on the couch to read. We chose fun, kid appropriate books that were a little higher than their level. Reading to your child helps in two ways: fluency and comprehension. Your child will learn how words look and sound as well as how it sounds to read a sentence/chapter/book. Also, your child can now concentrate on the story and not the words that are coming up. This was probably the best thing we did to help Lane. Last summer we read Charlotte’s Web, Indian in the Cupboard, and Hatchet. This summer we plan to read Where the Red Fern Grows, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and Shiloh.

Tip: Ask Dad to help read too. I was the primary reader because I love to read. However, I asked my husband to join in on an occasion because it shows everyone has different levels of reading. Trent can read, but he’s a little slower and not as fluent in the story telling. It helps the kids recognize not everyone is a fantastic reader, and that’s ok!

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Enlist Some Help:

Lastly we enlisted some help from our dog Jack. This was a favorite for Asher, our first grader. He chose Jack as his reading partner for his homework. It’s been tested that children who struggle with reading did well when reading to a therapy dog. Jack is no therapy dog…he’s barely a good dog LOL. However, he sits beside Asher or lies with him and patiently lets Asher read him a story.

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What tips do you have for helping boys read? Does your child struggle with reading? Comment in the section below.

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