What to do When Your Child Hates Learning to Read

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Do you know what to do when your child hates learning to read? They can hate it for a variety of reasons, especially if there is a learning disability involved, but knowing how to proceed in this situation can be a bit of a mystery to some. I have dealt with it and by trial and error, seem to have developed a system that works well.

So, what is this system? What do you do when your child hates reading?

learning to read

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Did you catch that? Nothing. Now, I do not claim to be a teacher in a classroom setting nor someone who has been “professionally trained” in teaching reading, but as a homeschooling mom of eight including two reluctant readers, this is what I have found to work for me.

By nothing I don’t mean nothing, literally, still offer, still sneak reading skills in where you can without them knowing it, but, make your child totally aware that it is ok to not read at this time. Take the pressure off, remove the expectations, and remove the method you have been using to teach them – and in the process you will remove the frustration. Removing the frustration is key. Followed by a break.

I usually teach reading using The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Readingbut when I find that I have a frustrated reader using this method, after a break they have been more willing to read using books, actual books. Books about things or characters that interest them. Readers that you as the parent/teacher primarily read, but gently invite them to read a few select words from. Although when reading books they miss the “lessons” that books like The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading provide, reading lessons also come from simply reading. In my experience, it has been ok, even better than ok, to step back from the lessons to soak in the actual reading.

During these vacations from the typical lessons, it is not uncommon for me to come home from the library with 50 readers that my reluctant reader may want to read. There needs to be plenty to choose from. Even better, is finding readers to read on an electric device. I have several easy readers on my Kindle. There is just something about reading on an electric device that makes it feel like they are not actually reading.


Even after becoming engaged in reading again, moving at a slower pace and patience are key. In the long run the extra time taken here will not matter – everything will get washed out by the time they are in third or fourth grade.

In homeschooling for more than 10 years, I have found that persevering through times of frustration without taking a step back, is rarely a benefit. The beauty of homeschooling is that there are no restrictions on day or time. If a Tuesday turns out to be a train wreck that week for one reason or another – bad attitudes, sickness, siblings spats, frustration – whatever it is, substitute in an evening or Saturday of school instead.

Being fluid is so vital to homeschooling. I find that my kids actually love it when I surprise them with an unexpected day off school or a “fun” day when we may watch an educational video such as Planet Earth or play games, color, do crafts, or have a home economics day filled with cooking, baking, or other household skills. Just as my older kids appreciate these breaks from the typical school day, so do my reluctant readers, even when it needs to be a longer break.

In the case of reading, being willing to listen to what your child is really saying through their attitude about reading is essential.

It has been amazing for me in the case of both of my reluctant readers to walk into a room only to find them reading. On their own. For fun. Both of the kids who hated reading in my house, later learned to love to read. In fact, my child who I nickname “The Reader” was once my child who hated reading!

I think one of the greatest challenge as a homeschooling parent and as a parent in general, is being able to pick a new path when the one we are on becomes too overwhelming for our child. Over the years I have learned that in the end, the new path will eventually take us to the new destination anyway, often with much less tears along the way.

For this reason, if you have a child who hates learning to read, just take a step back for the moment. Spend some time focusing on something else and wait for them to be ready to learn to read. They will get there, at least if they are anything like my two reluctant readers,

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