The ability for a student to read on his or her grade level is one of the most important skills gained in school, as reading abilities are necessary for nearly every subject and every career.
That’s why, once a student has been identified as needing to improve his or her reading level, teachers must act quickly to keep him or her from falling even farther behind. If that’s the situation you find yourself in right now, you’ve come to the right place.
The five strategies below can help improve a student’s reading levels, address a student’s problems with reading, and also help prevent the student from falling behind in his or her reading level.
The more students read, the more likely they will see their reading levels go up. Make reading something the student does as often as possible. In the classroom, for example, reading should not be limited to language arts or silent reading time. Reading should happen during math, science, art, physical education, social studies, and anytime learning is taking place. This will help expose students to multiple types of texts and show them that reading connects to everything they are learning.
Reading also should happen outside of school. This can be a challenge for students who come from a home where adults struggle with reading or even a home without books. As much as you can, try to work with parents to help them understand the importance of reading and encourage them to read with their children or let their children read to them. For students without books in the home, encourage their families to check out books from the school library or from the classroom library.
Students who struggle with reading may benefit from hearing others read. Try incorporating daily read-aloud sessions in the classroom so students can hear the traits of a strong reader and focus on key vocabulary words or elements of a story in a different way. No matter what grade students are in or at what level of reading they are, they may really benefit from a read-aloud session.
In addition to reading to students, give them the opportunity to read out loud. By hearing a student read out loud, you might more easily identify and address problem areas. Your student may even hear problems when they read-aloud and automatically correct those errors they didn’t realize they were making.
Here’s a good reminder for all educators: students don’t always have to read a new page or chapter every time they pick up the same book. Re-reading the same sections over again can help a student become more comfortable with his or her reading abilities and help them become more familiar with key vocabulary words. Re-reading sentences and paragraphs of a story can also help students clear up confusion, correct errors, or discover something they missed the first time.
Teaching students to talk about what they have read can also help improve their reading levels. As your students make predictions, answer clarifying questions, and analyze what they are reading, they learn to ask questions as they read and build skills to improve comprehension. Talking about reading can be in the form of a formal assessment, such as a specific set of questions for students to answer, or an informal discussion among peers. Simply asking a child what they thought about a book or to share their favorite part of a book can be truly beneficial.
Sometimes a student’s biggest problem when it comes to reading is that reading simply isn’t fun. This may be because the student is not reading books at an appropriate level or because he or she is not reading books that interest them. In other words, if your student says reading is boring, they may just need a new book. Look for something that fits your student’s reading level and their interests—it may just be the one book that transforms their passion for reading.