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9-year-old's reading not up to par

Note: "Ask the Learning Advisor -- Ideas for Raising Successful Children" is a free syndicated column from The Parent Institute.

[JULY 22, 2005]  Q: My 9-year-old's teacher is concerned about her reading. She says my daughter is reading below her grade level and that she's a reluctant reader in class. I've tried to get her to read more at home, but she's just not interested. I'm afraid she'll fall behind. What can I do to help her read?

A: You are about to give your child a tremendous gift -- the love of reading! Reading is the foundation for nearly all success in education, and you can help her build that foundation right now! Start with these steps:

  • Take a trip to the library and get her a library card. But before you go, think about some things she is very interested in and help her select books on those topics to check out. Then agree on a regular schedule to visit the library -- once a week is a good place to start.

  • Make reading at home easy. If the TV remote is within reach but her books are piled on a shelf in another room, you can guess what she'll choose. Keep reading materials handy -- and get the TV out of her bedroom.

  • Have her pick out a book for you to read to her. Stop before the end and have her predict what she thinks will happen. Soon enough, she'll pick up the book herself to find out.

  • Relax her bedtime rule once or twice a week. Tell her she can stay up later -- as long as she's reading.

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  • Have her read along with a book on tape if she is struggling to figure out each word.

  • Be a reading role model. Let her see you reading and share your own excitement about it.

Above all, have patience. Reading is a skill that improves with lots of practice. Just give her the tools. Make sure you have enough books, magazines, comics, newspapers (or anything else) available for her to read anywhere, anytime. You can even check out children's websites that she might enjoy reading. Soon enough she'll get hooked on her newfound enjoyment, and you'll be able to watch her learn as her reading skills soar.

[The Parent Institute]

For more information about helping children learn or to submit your own question, go to All questions will receive a prompt answer by e-mail.

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