Mom-to-Mom Support/How can I get my child to slow down and focus better as she reads?

How can I get my child to slow down and focus better as she reads?

Smiling mom and little preschooler daughter sit on sofa at home reading book together


I am using Devotional Stories for Little Folks for 2nd grade reading practice and my daughter is having a hard time with it. She frequently skips little words and reads too fast, mumbling the words. Should I be stopping her every time she skips or mispronounces a word and have her read it over? What about reading too fast and mumbling? I have been stopping her and having her read over the words she misses or mispronounces and I frequently stop her and remind her to read slowly and clearly, but I’m doing this almost CONSTANTLY during her reading practice.

Dear Parent,

Oh, how much your question brings back memories of one of our own children! (Who became a strong reader around 3rd grade).

I’m sure your daughter’s reading will level out with time, too, but in the meantime, here are a few tips:

As students advance by grade, textbooks, newspapers, and other reading matter encountered will have progressively smaller print and line spacing; one important facet of learning to read is adjusting to this change in format.

To slow the student down and get him/her to focus, cut a piece of cardboard to cover the lines and page below the line currently being read. Have the student move the cardboard down to uncover the next row as she finishes reading each line.

Another way to help your daughter slow down is to model for her. You might alternate, with Mom reading one sentence and daughter reading the next. Hearing you reading more slowly, and reading silently along with you, may help her set a slower pace. A variation is to read one sentence together aloud, and then have her read one sentence aloud on her own. If you are reading at a slower pace, she will likely match your pace as you read aloud together. Praise her frequently as she slows down, perhaps remarking that she is beginning to sound like a grown-up reader.

In regard to skipping and mispronouncing words, if the words that she is skipping or mispronouncing are words that she can read if they are presented alone, I wouldn’t be too much of a stickler at correcting her every error. (New vocabulary words are the exception: they should be introduced before the story is read, so that they will be familiar when encountered in the story). Correct occasionally, particularly if you see a pattern to the missing words. Education is a process; mastery of any subject comes only after a good deal of practice. Think of how far she has come in her reading since last year!

Yet another approach is to break the reading practice into a couple of sessions, perhaps reading half the story in the morning, and reading the rest after lunch. Over lunch, discuss the story just a bit, asking what she thinks will happen next.

As your daughter slows down and relaxes, anticipating what may be a surprise ending, she should begin to enjoy the reading sessions more. Reading can then become a happy time of shared discovery for both of you.

May our good Jesus bless and guide your homeschooling days,

Nancy Nicholson

About Nancy Nicholson

Nancy Nicholson is one of the founding authors of Catholic Heritage Curricula. Equipped with an abundance of God-given talent, a major in Secondary Education–English, and years of experience homeschooling her own children, she has written over thirty educational titles, beginning with Little Stories for Little Folks. Her unique ability to develop programs and workbooks that “fit” both advanced and struggling students is due to her experience raising children of different ability levels and learning styles: two of her children are developmentally challenged, while another went on to graduate from Harvard and is now a college professor.