Students At Home

For Everyone Who Learns at Home

How to Motivate a Reluctant Reader

on March 17, 2012

As an enthusiastic reader, I long to share my love affair with my students at home.  While my daughter loves to read, my son struggles to even recognize the letters of the alphabet sometimes.  Despite regular practice and a daily online Phonics class with his kindergarten teachers, he still struggles to differentiate between P and T, G and J and B and D.  Yesterday, he read the word “can,” and two words later he stopped in frustration, unable to put the sounds together.  

Our reading journey has been one struggle after the other.  After countless tears from both the teacher and her son, I found a new approach. 

 Today, I hid two sight word flash cards around the house.  I told him he could earn one M & M for each word he finds and reads to me.  He couldn’t wait to find each word and earn his reward.   Candy motivates my son.  I know it’s not necessarily a healthy approach, but he responds to this motivational tool. 

During my six years of homeschooling, I have heard of other moms finding innovative ways to motivate their children.  A friend takes advantage of her son’s enthusiasm for outdoor exercise.  She tapes several capital letters to one tree and the corresponding lower case letters to a second tree.  Her son runs from tree to tree matching the letters.  

Another home schooling mom teaches her daughter to read by accessing her daughter’s passion for color.  With brightly colored markers, her daughter colors large bubble letters from a coloring book.  As she colors, mom reads a story that reinforces the letter’s sound.  

My son is not super interested in reading.  He would rather be riding his bike, fixing bikes or playing cars.  I’m hoping he learns many more words and becomes a confident and enthusiastic reader, thanks to the power of a tiny piece of chocolate.        

If you happen to be the parent or teacher of a reluctant reader, I encourage you to persevere.  Find what motivates your student and create a positive work environment.  Read interesting stories to him or her.  Smile often.  Offer praise for each correct sound.  Model a joy for printed words.  

I welcome your success stories or reading struggles.  What motivators work for your children?  What tricks have you found for helping your reluctant reader find success?   The journey is challenging for reluctant readers and their teachers.  We can help them reach success when we practice patience and find effective motivators.


3 responses to “How to Motivate a Reluctant Reader

  1. Hi there,

    I just read this post and decided to make a comment. I was a reluctant reader as a child and a slow learner. I left school at the age of fourteen and still unable to write properly. I didn’t know where commas went or how to spell, but I could read. As a small child I was encouraged by my mother to go to libraries. The thing that encouraged me to read was funny books with naughty children. I’d read them over and over. I decided that when I grew up I wanted to be an author and write funny books for children.

    Well, I did obtain my goal, but not until I was in my fifties. I’d finished full time work and had time to learn how to write for children. This took me four years of hard work and I learned on on-line writing groups and by reading hundreds of children’s books. I now have four published children’s books and I’m writing three more at the moment.

    My Rascals series is popular with reluctant readers and I now have many fans of children and parents who’s children refused to read, also ones that did read but love the humour of my books. I write for children’s kind of humour, so my stories are quite gross. Kids love to read gross things. My characters have accidents, like when mean teachers won’t let them go to the toilet, (which happened to me as a kid). They accidently break things, play stupid games that get them into trouble, eat sweets from the floor and get sick, block the toilet, fart on stage at the Opera House, hide pets in their school bags and more.

    I have small grandchildren and my daughter-in-law didn’t really want me reading my gross books to them, but I did and they roared with laughter. They ask me to read them over and over. Now that the oldest one has started school, my daughter-in-law realises that to get a child to read at all is good. Only thing is, I had donated my books to his school and now my grandson wants to tell his teacher that it was his nanna that wrote the book about the little boy who pooed on the teachers foot. LOL My daughter-in-law thinks not, but I don’t know how she’ll stop him. LOL.

    If you would like a free copy of my eBooks I can gift them to you. They also come as paperbacks and if you like the eBooks, I could gift you a copy of the two Rascals books to do with what you wish. You could keep them or give them away as a prize. Of course, I understand that you may not like your children to read gross books. It sounds like your doing a great job of teaching your children already. You have a great website.

  2. Thank you! I would be thrilled to read your book. I checked out your blog and read a sample chapter. My son would love it, and it made me laugh. 🙂

  3. Lori says:

    One way we have fun with phonics is to print or write all of the letters (1 on each sheet) on 8 1/2 x 11 paper. Then I call out a site word or other word and my daughter has to hop from one letter to another, calling each letter, until the word is spelled.

    I also write the words on flashcards. When my daughter reads the word easily she gets a sticker. When she can spell the word, she gets another sticker.

    My girls love to type on the computer, so a great way for them to practice their spelling words is to have them type them on the computer.

    One last fun way is to make a generic game board. My daughter flips over a word flashcards. If she gets it right, she rolls the dice and move. If she gets it wrong, she stays at that space until her next turn and a correct spelling. What’s great about this is that my 3 girls (in different grades) can play this game at the same time each using their own stack of words. It also works great with other flashcards for math, science, history, etc. is a free site that allows you to type in the word list you are working on and the child can play games such as hangmouse, crosswords, etc. We also love for a child just learing to read and learing all of the rules.

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