Five Ways to Celebrate Progress And Success With Struggling Readers


Ways to encourage struggling learners

If you have a child or work with children who struggles with reading on a daily basis, you know what a battle it can feel like. As an Orton-Gillingham teacher who uses the Orton-Gillingham approach, I sometimes see progress in small increments, instead of leaps and bounds. Guess what? I’m OK with that. Growth might me a steady, uphill climb, or lots of stumbling along a bumpy hill. We never want it them in the valley, so to speak, do we?

Think about this: Are we forgetting that children who struggle with learning to read, need a great deal of encouragement? How can we praise them for their efforts in a meaningful way? I’m going to share some ways to do just that. I will readily admit, I am not a huge extrinsic reward person when it comes to rewarding students in the classroom. But in the case of small groups or 1:1 intervention, I think it’s a great idea, and I hope that other teachers/tutors get on board.

I was recently wrapping up a level of Orton-Gillingham with a student who’d worked SO hard to get there. Of course there were the typical review lessons, but I wanted to do more. After asking some fellow Orton-Gillingham teachers, and they shared some great ideas.

1. Game Day
We play LOTS of games to review. Whenever possible, I try to have my students choose the game as an incentive. Of course, they love to beat me.

2. Scavenger Hunt
I love the idea of getting kids up and active when reviewing before an assessment. Create a list of words they need to find with a particular spelling pattern around a room. You can even create a simple “Read The Room” game where kids need to find a word that follows a spelling rule.

3. Reading Party
Reading is HARD for these kids. They deserve to be praised for their dedication and perseverance. Host a reading party where they can dress like a favorite character or in their pajamas, read in a special spot, or they receive a book as a gift. Lots of teachers collect Scholastic bonus points, so that’s one way to purchase books affordably or even for free.

4. Celebration
They passed the assessment! You and your students are thrilled! So break out the candy, noise makers, a special snack, music, and awards. Be sure to take a picture of your student on the day of the celebration and send it home to their parents. You might wish to reserve some bulletin board space for displaying photos of kids as well!

5. Let’s Brag.
This is a brand new incentive system I have started. I used to use the old crab that had a million little segments. Do you remember that? A child would color in a segment when they mastered a certain phonogram. But we tended to forget to color it in. (OOPS) So, I created these brag tags that are specific to Orton-Gillingham. They can be use for Wilson, or other reading intervention programs, too. I printed them out, laminated them, punched out a hole and added them to a ring. I DO find you should use a large ring if you commit to using them. You can start a set of brag tags every time they reach a new level. Let me tell you. KIDS LOVE THESE. They are a surefire way to spark conversation about what they’ve learned. Parents can ask about them. Your students will be so proud to earn one, which by the way isn’t often. Be conservative. Earning a tag is BIG DEAL.

Where can I get these tags, Emily? You might ask? I made you a HUGE set. There’s a collection of 81 brag tags. Some are blank for you to personalize. You can grab them here for FREE!

Ways to encourage struggling learners

Do you have any other ways you like to celebrate with successes with kids? I’d love to hear. Let me know in the comments below. Thank you for visiting my blog today. Please be sure to sign up for my email newsletter. Thank you!


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One Comment

  1. Thank you for the brag tags, Emily! I think these will be great to keep my students motivated, especially over the summer sessions. What a great idea!

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