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Readers at Risk

Help for Struggling Readers


Find out how to help with reading strategies and reading comprehension. Many educational jurisdictions do not have the luxury of a reading intervention program such as Reading Recovery, Animated Literacy, First Steps etc. The strategies found here will help to support low level readers in the regular classroom.


These strategies are to be used in the regular classroom to support readers at risk and special needs children. This is not a Language Arts program. This is a supplemental reading program to assist struggling readers. The goal is to have your reluctant or struggling readers become confident and independent readers.

Classroom Time

To provide intervention, routine and consistency are a must. Set aside 20 minutes each day for your reluctant readers. Your group should not be larger than seven students. You will need to work with this group of seven students at the same time each day if possible. You will need to establish routines for the other children in your classroom. (This is an excellent time to have the rest of your students involved in silent reading, journal writing, printing or puzzle and challenge activities).

The Supplemental Program Needs to Include Opportunities for:

  • Phonemic awareness
  • Phonics
  • Comprehension
  • Oral Spelling and Sounding of Words
  • Sight word vocabulary development
  • Connections between reading, writing, and oral communication
  • Good literature that encourages children to read material that's within their comfort range

Sample 20 Minute Activities:

Select a story or chart paper poem for repeated readings (students are encouraged to chime in).

Select individual words from the story for phonetic awareness.

Use some of these words to develop phonemic awareness (ask students to say the word, then isolate each sound in the word e.g,- c-a-t- 'cuh ah tuh' -cat. then ask the students to brainstorm other words that sound like cat. [

Develop word family charts as necessary and review often during your 20 minute block of time.

Maintain a list of all books read, encourage students to practice these books both at home and school.

Develop a word bank as students learn them. Print them on cards in a can to review frequently.

Focus on letter sound correspondence on words within the printed selection.

Separate 2 and 3 syllable words into sounds.

Blend letters and cue students for the letters that make up the blend/digraph (ch, sh, pl, bl etc.)

All of the above activities are elements of the reading process. The suggested activities need to be worked together smoothly for a reader to develop confidence and independence as a reader.

Assessment - Record Information About the Following:

  • One to one matching
  • Uses structure cues
  • Knows initial sounds
  • Knows final sounds
  • Self corrects
  • Is able to isolate sounds
  • Demonstrates recall
  • Increased sight word vocabulary
  • Beginning to write known words correctly in written activities

Parent Connections

Parents should be encouraged to play a role in their child's supplemental reading program. Merely asking parents to read to their children and listen to their children read isn't enough. You will want to provide a workshop or two for parents/volunteers to support your supplemental program. Provide parents with concrete examples of how they can follow up at home with at least 15 minutes a night.

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