For grades one through three, the object of most school reading assignments is to build reading skills. You can help with the necessary practice and offer support to your child with attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD), dyslexia, or other learning disabilities.
- Preview reading materials. Direct your child’s attention to the cover, the title of the book, and the illustrations. Teach her to use these visual clues as she reads. Ask, “What do you think the book is about?” This will help an ADHD child put the words into context.
- Read together. Have your child with ADHD read some of the book by himself, and then take turns reading aloud and listening to each other. If he stumbles on a word, say it for him, rather than insist that he struggle to decode it.
If he wants to sound out the word, let him. If he needs correction, say something like, “The word is house, but your guessing home makes sense,” or “The word is house, but your guessing horse shows that you know the ‘h’ and the ‘s’ sounds.” In other words, compliment his strategy, rather than demean his ability.
- Review the ideas. Every few pages, ask pertinent questions: “Who is this story mainly about? What happened first? What happened next? How do you think this story will end?” These help kids put all the pieces together when reading.
- Play word games. Dedicate each day or each week to mastering a specific phoneme, or word sound. For instance, find 10 things in your house that contain the “kuh” sound—his coat, backpack, clock, or kitten. Serve carrots, cucumbers, and milk for dinner. Find the kings and jacks in a pack of cards. Make it fun.
- Know your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Some children with ADHD or learning disabilities need help decoding written words. Others find reading words easy but struggle to understand the meaning of what they read. Ask your child’s teacher where he needs help. If it’s decoding, incorporate letter-sound activities into your child’s day. If content is the problem, help your child recognize story lines. Watching short films or reading comic books might help him to understand the concepts of plot, characters, and sequence.
- Build vocabulary. Talk with your child about anything that interests him, and use a mature vocabulary. Read to him for pleasure, from books that are beyond his capability but within his interest. The richer the verbal environment, the less likely he will be stumped by unfamiliar words in required reading.
- Get help. Consider having your child work with a mentor, coach, or learning specialist to boost his reading skills.