Learn how to improve reading level of children at home.

How to Improve Reading Level: The Ultimate Parent's Handbook

Reading is a critical skill that has a direct impact on a child's academic success and personal development. In other words, it's a passport to a world of learning, creativity, and understanding. But, what if your child is struggling to reach their reading potential? That's where we come in! In this article, we'll explore effective strategies parents can employ to help their kids improve their reading level. We'll also delve into some common factors that may be causing reading difficulties, and how to address them.

Understanding Reading Levels and the Causes of Low Performance

Reading Levels Explained

Reading levels are a measure of the complexity of a text and a student's comprehension skills. They give parents and teachers an idea of what texts a child can read independently. It's important to note, however, that reading levels are a guide, not a strict rule. The Lexile levels for books can provide a useful reference point. The ultimate goal is for your child to enjoy reading, irrespective of the reading level of the book.

Improving reading level starts at home!

Unraveling the Causes of Low Reading Levels

  1. Lack of Exposure to Reading Materials: A child's reading level can be significantly influenced by the amount and variety of reading materials they are exposed to. In the early grades, children learn a lot by interacting with books, magazines, and even digital texts. Encouraging a habit of reading from a young age can lay a strong foundation for literacy skills.

  2. Ineffective Teaching Strategies: Each child is unique, and so is their learning style. Some children might struggle with traditional teaching methods. A common example is the overemphasis on phonics, which can be confusing for some kids. Instead, teachers can use decodable readers which are designed to help kids learn phonics in a simplified and systematic way.

  3. Learning Disabilities: Some children may have learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, that impact their ability to read well. If you suspect a learning disability, it's important to talk with your child's teacher or a learning specialist.

  4. Limited Vocabulary: Unfamiliar words can make reading a challenging task. A child's vocabulary knowledge plays a significant role in their ability to understand and engage with a text.

  5. Lack of Motivation: Finally, motivation plays a critical role in reading development. The school year can be long, and if kids aren't engaged with the material or don't see the fun in reading, their interest may wane. There are several strategies to motivate reluctant readers at home, such as choosing books that align with their interests or using hi lo books which are high-interest, low-level texts designed to engage struggling readers.

In conclusion, understanding the causes of low reading levels is the first step in addressing them. Subsequently, with the right support and resources, every child can improve their reading level and develop a lifelong love of reading.

The 7 Reading Skills

Understanding what skills contribute to reading can help you, as a parent, more effectively support your child. Let's explore these seven crucial reading skills and how they play a part in your child's learning journey.

Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness is a foundational skill in reading. It's all about understanding the sounds that make up words. For instance, your child should be able to hear the 'c,' 'a,' and 't' sounds in 'cat'. This is often one of the first skills that children develop.


After phonemic awareness comes phonics. This is where children learn to match those sounds to the letters and combinations of letters. In other words, they learn that 'c,' 'a,' 't' spells 'cat'.


Vocabulary development is crucial for reading comprehension. The more words a child knows, the better they'll understand the text they're reading. Books, especially books for tweens or books for middle schoolers, can expose children to a wide array of words.


Fluency refers to the ability to read smoothly and accurately. Children should be able to read at a good speed, with proper expression, and without too many hesitations.

Reading Comprehension

The ultimate goal of reading is to understand the text. Comprehension means grasping the meaning of the words and sentences in a text, as well as understanding the plot, characters, and themes of a story.

Critical Analysis

Going beyond comprehension, critical analysis involves drawing key ideas from the text. It's about making inferences, analyzing characters, or debating themes.


Lastly, motivation is a key part of reading. Children need to be motivated to read, whether that comes from a love of stories, a desire to learn, or an interest in specific topics.

Seven-Step Strategy to Improve Reading Levels

While it's important to tailor your strategy to the individual needs of your children, some techniques to help your reader at home are universal.

Step 1: Develop a Reading Routine

To clarify, a reading routine does not mean forcing your child to read. It's about making reading a regular and enjoyable part of their day. For instance, you could read aloud to them or have a family reading time. Reading aloud offers many benefits: it can help students build their vocabulary, improve comprehension, and develop a love for reading.

Step 2: Choose the Right Books

Books for tweens or middle schoolers need to be interesting and appropriate for their reading level. You can check out some great books for middle schoolers or books for tweens here. Graphic novels can also be an excellent choice.

Step 3: Promote Word Recognition

Promoting word recognition means helping your child to recognize common words instantly. Flashcards or educational games can be useful for this. In addition, there are some fun games for readers available online.

Step 4: Foster Comprehension Skills

It's not enough to just read the words; your child should understand what the text means. Ask them questions about the story, encourage them to summarize it in their own words, or make predictions about what will happen next.

Step 5: Focus on Vocabulary Expansion

Introduce your child to new words and help them understand their meanings. One technique is to use context clues from the sentence or paragraph to decipher unfamiliar words. It not only improves their vocabulary but also strengthens their comprehension skills.

Step 6: Encourage Regular Practice

Practice makes perfect, as the saying goes. Encourage your child to practice reading every day. It could be reading books, magazines, or even appropriate online content. Regular practice will significantly improve their reading fluency and improve reading comprehension over time.

Step 7: Provide Support and Feedback

Let your child know that it's okay to struggle with reading sometimes. Every reader encounters difficult texts or confusing words. It's part of the learning process. The most important thing is to provide support, celebrate their progress, and give constructive feedback.

Overcoming Poor Reading Skills

Struggling with these skills can be a roadblock in a child's academic journey through life. However, with consistent efforts and the right strategies, these obstacles can be overcome.

Identifying the Problem

Before you can help your child improve their skills, you need to identify the root cause of the struggle. It could be difficulty with word recognition, lack of vocabulary knowledge, or problems with reading comprehension.

Tackling Word Recognition Issues

If your child is having trouble recognizing words, games that focus on phonics can help. In addition, introducing them to decodable readers can support their learning. Decodable readers are books designed to apply explicitly taught phonics rules, allowing kids to practice reading in a controlled, yet engaging way.

Building Vocabulary

On the other hand, if the issue lies with vocabulary, it's time to focus on building their word bank. Start by picking out unfamiliar words from the text and teaching their meaning. Moreover, encourage your child to use new words in sentences to understand the meaning of their usage better.

Improving Reading Comprehension Skills

Comprehension can be tricky, but it's crucial to understanding what's being read. You can enhance your child's comprehension skills by asking questions about the text. For instance, who are the main characters? What was the key idea of the story? Encouraging your child to restate the story in their own words can also be beneficial.

The Power of Practice

Above all, remember that practice is key. Set aside some time each day for your child to read aloud. This not only helps you monitor their progress but also provides an opportunity to correct their mistakes in real-time. Additionally, games for readers are a fun way to practice and can help further develop skills.

Timeline for Improvement: How Long It Takes to Move Up a Reading Level

The question, "How long does it take to move up a reading level?" is a common one among parents and teachers alike. However, the answer is not so straightforward.

Individual Progress Rates

Firstly, it's crucial to understand that every child progresses at their own pace. Some students may leap multiple reading levels in a single school year, while others may take a bit longer to advance. This variation is entirely normal.

Measuring Reading Levels

To measure progress, it's helpful to use a system such as the Lexile levels for books. These standardized measures help you understand where your child is at and what their next steps should be. Keep in mind, though, that these levels are guidelines, not hard and fast rules.

Consistent Practice

Remember that consistent practice is the key to improving reading level. This doesn't mean drilling them with exercises. Instead, it means creating a culture of reading at home. Make it fun. Encourage them to explore different texts and genres. If they love reading, they're more likely to do it frequently, and as a result, their skills will improve more quickly.

Keeping Track

Moreover, you can keep track of your child's reading level throughout the school year. Regularly communicating with your child's teacher can provide insight into their progress.

Gradual Improvement

So, how long does it take to move up a reading level? It's different for every child. Some may see a noticeable improvement in their reading levels within a few months of targeted intervention and consistent practice, while others may take a full school year or more.

Above all, the goal is not to rush progress but to foster a love of reading. When a child enjoys reading, improvement will follow. Remember, as they say, it's a marathon, not a sprint. Celebrate every success, no matter how small, and keep nurturing your child's literacy skills.

Improving Your Child's Reading Level at Home

Now that we have a good understanding of how reading levels work and how to gauge improvement, let's dive into some practical tips for helping your child improve their reading skills at home.

Creating a Reading Environment

Firstly, make reading an essential part of your home environment. That means having a wide variety of books accessible. You might want to look into age-appropriate books like books for tweens or books for middle schoolers depending on your child's age.

Exploring Different Genres

Encourage your child to explore various genres. Maybe they haven't fallen in love with reading yet because they haven't found the type of book that hooks them. Try graphic novels, mystery books, or even hi lo books designed to intrigue while being easy to read.

Regular Reading Time

Set aside a regular reading time each day. This practice can be a bedtime story for younger children or silent reading time for older ones. The key is consistency and making reading a daily habit. Some kids will benefit when they read aloud with the family. Never forget: parents who model reading raise children who become readers.

Discussions about the material read

After reading, engage your child in a conversation about the book. This activity not only improves comprehension but also makes reading a more interactive and enjoyable experience.

Engaging in Activities for Reluctant Readers

If your child is a reluctant reader, don't worry. There are plenty of reluctant reader activities to help spark their interest. In the same vein, motivating reluctant readers at home can turn reading into a fun and enjoyable task rather than a chore.

Leverage Audiobooks

Audiobooks for kids are a great resource to help with reading, especially for children who might be struggling. They can follow along with the text as they listen, improving their understanding and fluency.


There's a lot that goes into improving reading levels, but the most important thing to remember is that every child is unique. What works for one might not work for another. However, understanding the reading level, being aware of potential obstacles, and using the right strategies can certainly make a difference.

Above all, patience is key. As we've mentioned, improving reading level doesn't happen overnight. It's a journey that involves consistent effort, practice, and support. It's also a journey that can be incredibly rewarding. Watching your child grow, improve, and discover the joys of reading can be one of the most fulfilling experiences as a parent.

In short, helping your child improve their reading level is a team effort. With your encouragement and the right strategies, they can not only enhance their skills but also develop a lifelong love for reading. So let's get started on this reading journey, and witness the incredible transformation that comes with it. Happy reading!

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