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Is your child frightened to read? 5 proven ways to get your child to conquer reading today!

child on world book day wearing a cat in the hat costume -fear of reading how to help

What do you do if you find that your child isn’t delighted to stuck into their next copy of Biff and Chip? Or if they’re scared or have a fear of reading? Don’t worry. We have you covered.

Why do some children struggle with fear of reading?

You aren’t alone if you find yourself worried about your child’s progress with reading. And it’s your job to worry! Do you feel like your child is getting left behind?

Remember, lots of parents are going through exactly the same thing. Ignore the boasting at the school gates. They just aren’t being honest about it.

However, just like when your child was learning to walk, talk, eat…it takes time and patience. And it’s not a race.

Putting pressure on yourself and them could be more damaging than good. Pressure can feed a fear of reading and make it worse.

When do you need to be worried?

Your child is completely unique (pointing out the obvious here I know). They’ll learn to read in a unique style and at their own speed.

I have seen many very intelligent children come (comparatively) late to reading. Often, they will have in fact struggled with it for a long time.

But if your 4/5-year-old isn’t reading yet, don’t panic. You could incorporate fun reading-based activities to get them started on their reading journey.

If by the age of 6, your child still isn’t learning, this should be when you seek advice from their teacher.

However, what’s important to remember is that what’s normal for your child may be the complete opposite for someone else. Don’t compare but do keep an eye on it.

Why is my child finding reading difficult?

There are a number of reasons children struggle with or have a fear of reading. In fact, of which are completely normal and to be expected. Here’s just a few:

  • Your child might find it hard to sit still and concentrate for a long time
  • As time’s gone on, their anxieties around reading have increased
  • Your child may have speech and language difficulties and/or hearing loss.
  • History of reading or spelling difficulties in the family (research suggests that this can be passed down when linked to dyslexia)
  • Your child may struggle with the difference between sounds in spoken words and the letters (very common)
  • Pay attention to your child’s birthday. If your child’s an August baby, they will be almost a year younger than their friends. You should expect them to be a little behind in this case.

5 proven ways to help a child with a fear of reading

  1. Talk to your child’s teacher – they should have a good idea of where your child is and also if there’s any reason to be worried (you may be worrying about nothing!)
  2. Mention history of literacy problems in the family – if you’re getting increasingly worried about your child’s progress, talk to their teacher and your family doctor. They will steer you in the right direction and get your child the help they need.
  3. Keep a reading diary – this will help you keep track of exactly how your child’s doing when it comes to reading and how they may or may not be getting better.
  4. Read with your child at home – letting your child read or listen to a story will get them used to the practice of it (check out our other blog Why aren’t our children reading at home? or 15 ways to get your child excited about reading for more help with this).
  5. Talk to your child – if you’re unsure about whether your child’s truly struggling, just ask them! They’ll be the first ones to tell you how they feel about reading.
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