In a previous post, we highlighted some issues related to tracking problems in reading. Now we’d like to touch on four fairly simple, but often overlooked ways, to provide help for struggling readers.
Note that neither of these solutions will help you get to the core issue surrounding the struggling reader who loses his or her place easily, which is likely a vision problem. However, these tips can provide relief while you’re seeking a treatment, such as vision therapy.
1. Make the letters bigger with more space between the lines. If possible, do what you can to make letters bigger. We recommend 14-16 point font, 18 for first graders. You can also try and find books with larger print. Thanks to the increasing use of eReaders, you can easily adjust the typeface size so the letters are larger. This will be much easier for young readers to see and keep their place.
2. Allow the student to use bookmarks, straight-edges or a finger when reading. In the past (and perhaps in the present), it wasn’t uncommon for teachers to discourage the use of a straight-edge or a finger to help a student follow along a line of text.
Don’t make that same mistake. Anything a child can do to help his or her eye follow along a line of text should be encouraged. With tracking problems, it can be a real struggle to keep one’s eyes fixed on a line of text. Denying a child the tool to make this easier is like trying to cut your lawn without a lawnmower – a decidedly uphill battle.
3. Sit closer to the board. If a teacher is using a dry erase board or a SmartScreen, consider allowing the child to sit closer to the front of the room. Often children with vision problems have trouble lookingfrom the board to their notes. Anything you can do to get them closer to the source will help.
4. Use a slant board. A slant board will put the book or eReader at a better angle to the student. This is a much more natural viewing position which makes reading much less visually stressful. That in turn will make it easier for the person to keep their place.
These are just a few of many ways you can help a child who is struggling with reading. The key, once again, is to get to the root of the problem. Conduct a Functional Vision Test to determine why they’re struggling, and what you can do to fix it.
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