Reading Comprehension

Supporting Struggling Readers: With Tips for Effective Interventions

12 Jul 2023


Every classroom is filled with learners with diverse reading abilities. Reading is a fundamental skill that opens doors to a world of knowledge, imagination, and personal growth. It is not only essential for academic success but also plays a crucial role in our everyday lives.

Whether it's decoding, fluency, comprehension, or vocabulary challenges, we will suggest some valuable insights and interventions to foster a love for reading and improve overall academic performance. Let's dive in and explore the art of supporting struggling readers with empathy, education, and a touch of creativity.

Learning to read can be challenging, and some learners may face hurdles with decoding, phonics, fluency, and comprehension. It's crucial to recognize the signs of reading struggles and address them promptly to prevent negative impacts on overall academic performance. Here are common symptoms to watch for:

  • Slow reading rate
  • Transposing letters in words
  • Losing their place on the page
  • Skipping lines
  • Poor reading comprehension
  • Difficulty identifying words
  • Spelling problems
  • Leaving out or substituting words while reading
  • Reversing words
  • Difficulty decoding syllables and associating them with sounds
  • Limited sight word vocabulary or recognition
  • Reluctance to read

Additionally, learning difficulties such as dyslexia or ADHD, as well as anxiety, can affect a learner's reading ability. Identifying these factors is essential in providing appropriate support and building confidence.

Struggling readers may encounter difficulties in various aspects of reading. Let's explore each area and corresponding intervention strategies in a concise and friendly manner.

Phonemic awareness involves recognizing the relationship between letters and sounds and applying this knowledge to reading. Learners struggling with phonemic awareness may mix up letters and sounds or have trouble retaining certain letter sounds. Targeted instruction and practice can be helpful.

Research suggests that to understand any written text, we have to know the meaning of 90 – 95% of the words used (Hirsch, 2003). Limited vocabulary hinders learners' ability to pick up new words, read smoothly, comprehend text, and maintain motivation. Explicitly teaching and practising new vocabulary can enhance reading skills.

Reading fluency is the ability to read at a comfortable pace, maintaining comprehension and meaning. Struggling readers often read in a stilted or robotic manner, focusing more on individual words than the overall content. Guided reading, reading partnerships, and using supportive text formatting (larger font, visual aids) can improve fluency.

Reading comprehension involves processing and understanding text, drawing on background knowledge and vocabulary. Difficulties with phonemic awareness and fluency can hinder comprehension. Strategies such as retelling the story, teaching text structures, sight word instruction, and annotating text with symbols can boost comprehension skills.

Motivation plays a significant role in reading progress. If learners find books uninteresting or too challenging, their motivation may decline. Providing a variety of engaging reading materials tailored to individual interests can foster intrinsic motivation. Positive reinforcement and recognition of effort also contribute to sustained motivation.

Before implementing reading interventions, it's essential to assess learners' skills. Teacher and parent/guardian observations, coupled with standardised tests, provide valuable insights into progress and the effectiveness of interventions. Consider using reliable and easy-to-administer reading assessments like Bedrock's adaptive reading test.

Bedrock’s new reading test captures the complexity of reading in an easy-to-administer test, giving teachers valid, accurate, nationally-benchmarked information on their learners’ reading abilities. The assessment is driven by our adaptive algorithm, with questions automatically adapting based on each learner’s previous responses. They are easy to schedule and easy to administer, with no access codes, no lost time and no faff.

  1. Guided reading: Conduct small group sessions to improve fluency, modelling appropriate reading techniques.
  2. Positive reinforcement: Encourage struggling readers and recognize their efforts to maintain motivation. Consider using sticker charts or point systems as additional incentives.
  3. Scaffolding: Provide support to tackle more challenging texts, such as offering background knowledge, assigning focused questions, modelling desired observations, pre-teaching vocabulary, and using visual aids.
  4. Visual cues: Use objects or pictures to prompt learners to identify beginning sounds or phonics patterns.
  5. Counting words: Engage learners by having them listen for and count individual words in a text to develop phonemic awareness and segmentation skills.
  6. Model the learning: Teachers should model effective reading practices, allowing learners to hear skilled reading and adjust their own approach accordingly. Or try the I say, we do, you do method. Gradually guide learners from observing and practising with guidance to independent application of reading skills.
  7. Have learners retell the story: Encourage them to retell the story in sequence to enhance understanding of key details, structure, and main ideas.
  8. Teach different text structures: Teach your learners different text structures to improve comprehension and help them locate specific information.
  9. Teach sight words: Provide ample practice and activities to develop automatic recognition of frequently encountered sight words.
  10. Annotate text using symbols: Encourage learners to annotate texts with visual representations, helping them interact with the content and make it more meaningful.

Feel free to adapt these activities to suit your learners' needs and interests.

Incorporating technology into reading interventions can greatly enhance engagement and provide personalised learning experiences. Bedrock offers an adaptive learning program designed to strengthen reading skills through interactive activities, targeted instruction, and comprehensive assessments. Its adaptive algorithm adjusts content based on learners' performance, ensuring a tailored approach to meet individual needs. Bedrock Learning provides educators with valuable insights into learners' progress and the impact of their interventions. By leveraging Bedrock's digital platform, educators can effectively support struggling readers on their journey to becoming confident and proficient readers.

Bedrock Learning's literacy curriculum provides personalised and adaptive instruction to every learner