This homeschool curriculum for struggling readers finally helped me to help my learner gain confidence and learn to become the strong confident reader I knew they could be. I am sharing this because I found these answers through years of trial and error but nowhere near the top of google or search engines. But if they helped us, they just might help you too.
If you have a struggling reader you know how hard it can be when they struggle and lose confidence in themselves.
They look at those around them and start to wonder why can’t they get this thing that other people seem to do so effortlessly.
They start to formulate ideas like they must be “stupid”, “broken” or just plain useless.
They may look at other kids, siblings, or adults and to them, it looks like it is so effortless, why can’t they just get this thing figured out?
If the struggle continues they may try some technique to cover up for the reading, like guessing at words based on pictures or trying to read other people’s faces, or just hiding that they can’t read or lying about it.
I get it with my 3rd child we have been through it all.
We knew he was struggling, but for him, he just hated it and found no value in learning to read at all.
We would catch him lying to grandma about how much he could read, or making up a story to a scout leader about reading. All of it because he was ashamed and felt like he was broken or “dumb” he would say.
I had tried all sorts of books, programs, and apps. Nothing seemed to help.
To be fair he was/is dyslexic. But short of a big fat budget for pricey online programs there is nothing in our rural area to help dyslexic kids outside of public school.
So different approaches and different curricula, we just kept trying.
Struggling reader strategies that failed
We had tried, used, and failed with so many programs, plans, and strategies like:
- The Good and the beautiful (I loved this program with my other kids)
- Hooked on Phonics
- ABC Mouse
- Rod and Staff
- me forcing more work and pushing harder
- copy work
- and more
When we struggled through first grade, I thought my child was just more of the active type that hated to sit for too awful long. We just needed more engaging books and more fun.
As we continued through second grade I said he was more of a numbers kid, reading “just wasn’t his thing”. I just needed to find subjects that would grab his interest.
When we seemed to still be in that same place in third grade, I was at my wits’ end. I had taught my older two to read why couldn’t I help this one learn to read?
Then I was reading The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer
Many bright children (especially boys) struggle with handwriting and it’s common for letter reversal (p and q, b and d) to persist through first grade. This is not a sign of dyslexia. We recommend beginning cursive penmanship in second grade. If letter reversal is a consistant problem consider starting cursive earlier (it’s impossible to reverse curisive letters).Susan Bauer
Homeschool curriculum for struggling readers
I had never considered switching to cursive as a way to help my letter-flipping kid to start putting things in the right way. I had always done cursive after they had a good handle on all the letters and reading and writing simple words and sentences. Turns out that using cursive was a major win for us, and played a huge role in taking steps forward in reading and writing and letter recognition instead of just more confusion.
Pentime is a simple and inexpensive (and one of my favorite) handwriting curriculum that starts at a print or manuscript level and soon transitions to cursive.
Spelling Workout by Modern Curriculum Press
This workbook is part spelling part language arts part handwriting and at the level of workout level c it begins to start with cursive.
Reading curriculum for struggling readers
A.C.E. Word Building
Ace had been one of the first curriculums we had used with my oldest, and it would be my top pick for a homeschool curriculum for struggling readers. My oldest (a fantastic reader) used it in first grade and it helped build a strong reading foundation.
What I like about ACE (specifically word building curriculum) is the fact that it helps the reader learn to read difficult things like a silent e by color coding them gray instead of black so it notes to the reader that this letter is less sounding and therefore less colored. It also adds long and short vowel symbols over the tops of every vowel so that the reader can slow down and figure out how to read each word with every vowel sound. This builds so much confidence when they can figure it out with a few visual clues.
Pathway readers are simple stories that are built on slowly adding new words and then using them repetitively through short but engaging stories with good morals and characters built in.
Learning new words and then using them many times in short stories builds confidence that adds up quickly over time. The readers can be used with or without the accompanying workbooks.
Tips for homeschooling struggling readers
Lastly, I want to add a little bit about what else you can do with struggling readers and that is patience. From the bottom of this homeschooling mom’s heart, this is my biggest struggle in life. But I also feel that when my child started to be ready for reading the resistance we were facing just seemed to start to ease off.
So now my child is at a 4th-grade level but he is not reading there, but in homeschooling, I guess I don’t need to worry about that. With the relaxed approach of homeschooling, he can get what he needs when he is ready without the pressure which is not very helpful at all.
With an ear for music, a head for numbers, and a being kid that’s a wiz with hands-on and all the vintage Life skills I teach and want them to I guess I can let go of that arbitrary standard of reading on level. We will be ok with that and in the end, it will all be fine.
So take a step or two or ten back, and have patience. That is my best advice.
And if I am being completely honest I wish I could go back and tell that to me when my struggling reader was a first grader.
I’d say “Breathe mama, he will be fine, just give him some time he will get there, not all flowers bloom at the same time so children won’t either”.
Kids (people really) are unique and what makes them tick and how they learn and grow can not all be put in the same box. Finding what helps your unique child may be a task. With a struggling learner you might have tried everything at the top of the google search (I know I did), I hope I have shown you some really great options for homeschool curriculum for struggling readers. It might be perfect for you, and it may not, I can not guarantee that. What I do know is there is a solution and you and your young reader will find the right one.
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Beth is a mother of 6 living on a handful of acres in an old farmhouse in central Kansas. Beth has a background in the military and health and fitness however her passions come from her homestead life. Beth is an enthusiastic homeschooling mom, avid organic gardener, chicken & goat wrangler, who is obsessed with herbs and natural remedies and maintaining an all-around Do-It-Yourself lifestyle. Beth loves to share all she has learned about and sustainable living. While striving for a healthy, natural life, family-centered life.