It’s Never Too Late: Tips For Supporting The Adult Literacy Student In Your Life

If one of your loved ones never learned to read as a child, they're not alone. Approximately 44 million adults aren't able to read a bedtime story to their children. While this statistic is sad by itself, other statistics are even more depressing. 43% of adults with the lowest literacy skills live in poverty, and 72% of their children are likely to suffer from low literacy as well. 

Fortunately, the good news is that it's never too late to improve literacy skills. However, if your friend or relative hasn't been to school in a while, the transition back to classroom work can be difficult. A few important skills can help them navigate both the transition back into the classroom and the intellectual work required to succeed in their course.

Tip #1--Diet Matters

It's not very often that people equate their eating habits with success in the classroom. This is a critical mistake. Certain types of foods, such as seafood and nuts, are rich with Omega-3 fatty acids--which is found to help improve learning and memory in our brains. You'll want the student in your life to load up on these types of food as a result.

More than that, it's critical for students to have enough energy to attend to their studies. Since many adult classes take place after a full day's work, it's important to eat enough food to sustain a high level of effort. One the best ways you can support your loved one in their studies, then, is to ensure that their diet is up to the difficult task of learning.

Tip #2--Read To Them Often

An adult isn't likely to ask the other adults in their life to read to them. After all, they're likely choosing to learn to read so that they can increase their overall level of independence. This is truly unfortunate, since students tend to learn much more quickly when reading is modeled out loud for them

So, it's important for the student's support system to actively seek out shared reading opportunities. Whether it's in the form of morning news articles or a novel at the end of the day, try to find 10-15 minutes to read with the student. Their rate of learning and success in the course will improve as a result.

Tip #3--Give Them The Gift of Books

In children, experts agree that the amount of books in a home is a significant contributor to a child's eventual success with reading. Unfortunately, in homes where the adult is illiterate, it's likely that there isn't a lot of print material around. This hurts any children present but also prevents the adult from having reasons to practice their new skills.

As a result, you should find ways to saturate the adult's home environment with reading materials. Goodwill shops often have a large number of books for sale at low prices. Garage sales are another source of cheap books. Also, don't neglect your local library. Sometimes going to get a library card with the student in your life is all it takes. 

Tip #4--Don't Skimp on Encouragement

Reading is a difficult task. If it were easy for your student to succeed in their learning, it's likely that it would have already taken place. They will run into roadblocks and difficulties--not to mention the emotional issues that come with the stigma of illiteracy.

That's why you'll need to be strong for them. Don't miss an opportunity to let them know that you're proud of the work they're doing--and that it isn't childish work. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, difficult learning is often a team proposition.

Learning to read is never easy--either for children or for adults. However, if you're diligent in the ways that you support the adult learner in your life, their chances of success will improve by a great deal. For more ideas of how to support your loved one, contact a local adult education center