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Helping Kids Read Better

Growing up, Chris was among the smartest of his friends. He could do complex math from an early age, built sophisticated class projects, and turned in papers that were invariably well-crafted and thought-provoking. He looked like a future ambassador or diplomat, and only one area seemed to consistently hold Chris back: reading. For most of his childhood, Chris was an atrocious speller and a constant source of amusement to his friends with his mispronunciation of words. It’s a little cruel, but it’s what kids do.

Growing up, Chris was among the smartest of his friends. He could do complex math from an early age, built sophisticated class projects, and turned in papers that were invariably well-crafted and thought-provoking. He looked like a future ambassador or diplomat, and only one area seemed to consistently hold Chris back: reading. For most of his childhood, Chris was an atrocious speller and a constant source of amusement to his friends with his mispronunciation of words. It’s a little cruel, but it’s what kids do.

For years, people just joked that Chris was a bad speller, with Chris himself even offering this assesment. Eventually, though, a specialist was able to discover the source of Chris’s problem, that he was partially dyslexic. In time, with a little help, Chris got over his problem and became ever stronger academically. He even went to college on a full academic scholarship, and thrived there as well. Today, he does highly-placed government work, and it’s doubtful any of his colleagues know he once pronounced the word Phoenix as “Puff Uh Neex”

Kids like Chris show the benefits that specialists can offer. No longer is the word special just applied to slow children when referenced in terms of education. No, smart kids, as well, can benefit from the occasional powwow with reading tutors, speech therapists, and other educational professionals.

Ahead of the first trip to see a specialist, here are a few ways to help children read better:

1. Be cognizant, not dismissive, of any struggles a child may be having: It can be easy to chalk a kid’s educational shortcomings up to general imperfections, and certainly, it’s typically good practice to recognize that no one’s perfect academically. But as Chris’s case shows, what may be seen as a lovable quirk can also be a sign of a deeper, addressable issue, one worth tackling early lest it snowball. Pay attention to it.

2. Don’t tolerate bullying by other children: Chris had a good enough head on his shoulders and a secure enough sense of self to take good-natured ribbing from his friends in stride. If all the teasing fazed him, it was never outwardly apparent. For many other kids, though, getting chided for their literary struggles can have a noticeable and stifling effect on their desire to read. Any parent or teacher would do well to be on the lookout for bullying or teasing, being quick to nip it in the bud.

3. Work diligently on reading with a child: A parent may have their work cut out for them on helping their child boost their literary abilities. Besides simply reading with their children and helping with test prep, parents have a lot of other things they can do to help them in this regard. It’s important to show kids that it’s okay to learn at their own pace. And while it may be a struggle, good parents are also those who are patient as their children struggle through seemingly basic words. With enough patience, maybe these children will be in their shoes eventually.

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