How To Help A Child Struggling With Reading: 6 Tips And Tricks

Is your child learning how to read? Learning to read is an exciting time in a child’s life, but when they struggle, it can be frustrating! Some kids pick up reading with minimal effort whereas for others, it can be a real challenge. If your little reader is struggling, here are six tricks you can do at home to help them practice their reading skills. 

Read To Your Child

One of the very best things you can do for your child is read to them. When babies are born, their brains aren’t fully developed. Reading to them helps create and strengthen connections within their brain. More brain cells are also added constantly, and these connections will be the building blocks as they learn. 

Kids don’t just wake up one day learning to read. The foundation of reading starts when they are babies. You can start to read to your little ones as early as you want. Reading during bedtime can help them wind down from the day. When you aren’t rushing in the mornings, reading around the breakfast table can be a fun way to start the day as well. 

Reading early and often also helps instill a love for reading in our kids. Reading isn’t an easy skill to learn. In the English language, one letter can make many different sounds, and some sounds are made by multiple letters! Helping kids develop a love for reading may help them continue to practice the skill so that they can get lost in the books they love. 

Have Your Child Read Books At Their Level

When you’re the one reading books to your child, you can read books from a range of levels. However, when your child is practicing their reading, you should stick to books at their reading level. 

If your little one is struggling to read, giving them books at their level can help boost their confidence. They’ll be so proud of themselves when they read a book! If you give them a book beyond their reading level, it may discourage them if they aren’t able to read it. 

If you’re unsure of their reading level, reach out to their teacher. They should be able to tell you what books are at the right level for your reader. They’re able to do this by a simple reading test, typically done one on one with their teacher. 

Once you know their level, hop on to Caribu. We have categories where books are broken down into grade levels and ages. You can snuggle up with your budding reader and practice reading. They can even video-call Grandma and read a book to her! 

Play Games

You may not think of games as a way to help your child learn to read, but they do help, especially if you pick games that include letters and words. The best part about playing games is your child will just be having fun playing! They won’t be overwhelmed by another reading exercise. 


Snowman (also known as Hangman) is a super engaging game. This game combines the analytical processing of picking letters to guess the words, with the joy of drawing! If your child is struggling to read, pick small words that you know they know. Maybe they have a list of sight words they are working on. Those would be a great word bank to use. 

Remember, playing games should be fun! Set your child up for success. If you have more than two people, perhaps you play this game in teams. The goal is to make learning fun. To add in extra fun, help your child pick a super silly word for someone to guess. Give Grandpa a video-call and see if he can guess your word without building the whole snowman! 

Matching Games

Sometimes, we just need to bring it back to the basics. When kids play matching games on Caribu, they can connect letter sounds to a picture. They can also look at a picture and find the word that matches it. It can be a little less overwhelming looking at one page and drawing lines to connect the matches, than looking at a whole book and trying to read it. 

Matching games can help build your child’s confidence to recognize letters and letter patterns. 

These games can change up the pace of what they’re working on in school. They can also be a fun activity to do together. 

You both can take turns finding the right match and you can even pretend not to know the answer and let them help you. It has been long thought that when someone teaches someone a skill, they also learn and reinforce it in the process. 

Word Searches

Who doesn’t love a good word search? On Caribu, there are about 50 different word searches to choose from! Whatever your child is interested in (space, animals, food, sports), they’ll find a word search they’ll love. Once they choose their word search, they can pick from a variety of different colors to mark the words they find. Remind them to cross out the words they find in the word bank! 

If your child is still working on their letters, this is a good game to play with them. You may need to give them clues as to where the words are. You can say things like, “look in the middle,” “search on the top,” or “I see it on the right-hand side.” Not only will they be practicing their letter recognition and reading, but they’ll also be practicing their directions. 

Practice Sight Words At Home

If your child is in school, you’ve probably heard the term “sight words” quite a bit. These are words that are used very regularly in the English language. For example: a, can, for, not, in, or I. 

While these words can be sounded out, they’re used so often and they’re reviewed regularly with kids, so they don’t need to sound them out each time they come to the word. Other sight words don’t follow the rules. Words like ‘said’, ‘the’, ‘could’, ‘was’, ‘you’, and ‘does’ fall into this list. 

You can reinforce these words at home in fun ways. First, ask your child’s teacher for a list of their sight words. Once you have the list, you can help them practice their words. One thing you can do is write some words on separate notecards. You can hide the notecards around the house. 

Send your child on a word hunt. Once they find a word, see if they can read it! If not, help them read the word and move on to the next sight word. 

Be Consistent And Patient

As with learning any new skill, consistency is key with reading. Start making reading part of your normal routine. Of course, reading to them before bed is a great start, but you can even take it further than that. When appropriate, have them help you read directions for an activity or game. When you’re driving, see if they can find any words or letters that they’re  familiar with. 

The more consistent you are in reading to them and reinforcing reading at home, the more successful they may be at school. Keep in mind, reading should be fun! Keep it light at home. Read fun books and play fun games. If your child seems tired or loses interest in the game, that’s  okay! They’ve likely had a long day at school, and they may need a brain break. 

Being patient with them is also important. Kids will read when they’re ready. The best thing you can do for your child is be patient with them. Reading can be difficult and frustrating when they’re learning. 

Get Additional Support Early On

If you do suspect your child is behind, reach out to their teacher early on. If they are struggling, it’s likely their teacher has already communicated that to you. Their teacher may be able to give you recommendations for additional resources and tools to use at home. 


If you have a struggling reader, you aren’t alone! There are many children who struggle to learn to read. There are many ways to help your child at home but the best thing you can do is encourage a love for reading. You can do this by reading to them often and helping them pick books at their level for them to read. 

Switching up your activities at home to include fun games that encourage reading can help them without them even realizing it. Finally, be consistent and patient with your child. They need to know you’re in their court!

Caribu knows how important it is to bring fun into reading! You’ll find age-appropriate books and educational games, all on our entertaining and engaging Caribu App.


Fact Sheet on the Importance of Reading to Infants and Young Children | Get Caught Reading

Interactivity: A Potential Determinant of Learning by Preparing to Teach and Teaching | NCBI

Sight Words | ReadWriteServe Tutoring | UNC Charlotte