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How to Build Reading Confidence

Reading confidence matters. The way that a child thinks about him or herself as a reader early-on is carried through all of the school years. This is true for all subjects. How many of you refer to yourselves as ‘not a math person’, or ‘not an English person’? The truth is, each of us enters school with the same ability to learn and grow in any subject. The way that your experiences shaped your confidence changed how qualified you thought you were to learn something. 

We want to eliminate this problem for our young readers! Children who enter the primary grades and struggle, but are consistently aware that they are struggling, will have a harder time growing. Even with extra intervention and attention, their belief that they can’t grow will get in their way. Here are 5 ways to build reading confidence in your students! 

Make it Relevant

One of the best ways to get students working harder is to engage them in a task. With reading, you can do this by making the text relevant to their lives. Choose something high-interest. The more interested they are in the topic they are reading about, the more buy-in you will have from the very beginning. Being willing to dig deep and work hard is the first step to building reading confidence!

Refer to them as readers

This sounds simple on the surface, but make a point to refer to all of your students as readers, every day! Use present language: ‘you are a reader’! Avoid future-tense sentences such as, ‘one day you will be a great reader!’. This helps new or struggling readers internalize the idea that they are readers, even if reading feels difficult. 

One resource that builds this right into the task is my new Digital ‘I Am a Reader’ passages! I designed these to build reading confidence in every student. Right at the beginning of the lesson, students must say out loud, ‘I am a reader!’. This happens before any work begins, to boost the child’s mindset. 


Ease into it

For students who struggle, they are bracing themselves for any reading lesson to be difficult. I recommend easing into a text by doing some sort of reading warm-up. Review familiar sight words that the students will see in the text. Practice decoding CVC words that they will come across. Allowing students to be successful with a task right at the beginning of the lessons will boost reading confidence.

In the Digital ‘I Am a Reader’ passages, the lesson kicks off with some sight word and vocabulary practice. This is best practice for reading instruction, but it also allows nervous students to ease into the task at hand. 


Give praise early and often

Notice the small areas where the student is improving and point them out! It may be things such as the way they are tracking the words with their eyes instead of fingers. Or maybe they stopped at three periods in a row. Perhaps they used a decoding strategy without prompting. Maybe they simply just didn’t give up. Find areas to give praise, and give it throughout the lessons. This is especially important when you are building rapport with your class near the beginning of the year. 

At the end of each passage, the Digital ‘I Am a Reader’ sets include a GIF that praises the child for completing the text. This allows the student to be praised, even if they are practicing at home through distance learning, on their own during centers, or any other time they are reading! 


Set small goals, and celebrate!

When you are trying to grow in something, you likely set small, attainable goals for yourself. Do the same for your readers! The goal may be to use their new decoding strategy three times that day. Or maybe the goal is to finish the text without taking any breaks. Set the goals to match the student, and use sticker charts or other goal tracking pages. The visual reminder of how often students are meeting their goals is sure to boost reading confidence! 

You can learn more about how to use the Digital I Am a Reader passages by watching THIS VIDEO. See the Winter set in my TPT store, or save money now by grabbing the growing, seasonal bundle!  If you are new to digital guided reading, check out THIS POST about how to use digital passages with your students! Even if you are teaching from a distance, you can still boost confidence in every reader this year!

P.S. You can even try out it first with my FREE sample (shown below) here!

Aylin Claahsen

Aylin Claahsen

Providing resources and support to engage all readers.

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Hi, I'm Aylin!

I’m so happy you’re here! I’m a certified reading specialist who loves talking all things literacy. I have a huge passion for providing resources and support to engage all readers!


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