Ideas & Resources for Struggling Learners: Ages 11-13

Try these activities to engage your child — and build confidence and interest in learning.

By Michelle Anthony, PhD



Ideas & Resources for Struggling Learners: Ages 11-13

Middle school is a crucial time to engage your child in learning. It is often during these years that children are either ignited by or turned off to school. If your child struggles to learn, problem solve together and get a plan in place to allow success (and confidence!) to build. Support your child outside of school and find ways to extend or enhance what he’s doing at school. 

Social Studies:

Supporting non-fiction:

  • Great site to work on nonfiction learning.
  • David Adler’s picture book biography series is excellent.

Choose-your-own-adventure (CYOA) stories: To help make reading exciting, introduce your child to CYOA books. There are books with many levels (e.g., The Haunted House vs The Abominable Snowman, both by RA Montgomery). Or try out a graphic novel CYOA like Meanwhile by Jason Shina for more visual learners (and those wanting less text). Some fun online variations: 

Literacy Learning: 

  • Closed Captions: Have a child who would rather watch TV than read? Let them! But turn off the sound and turn on the captions!
  • Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader series: short, interesting, funny, engaging. Everything your reluctant reader could wish for. Try out this series and see if you don’t catch her reading! 
  • Monitoring reading comprehension strategies: Online comics/jokes/riddles to get your child reading and thinking!
  • Metacognition practice: Learning to use thinking tools and inference is a vital skill at this age. Struggling learners often have difficulty evaluating their strategies or thinking about their thinking (metacognition). One way to practice this is with cloze activities (deleted words from a passage that the reader fills in by drawing on their knowledge of context and grammar). They have to use context cues, schema, inference (all thinking tools) to fill in the blanks that the passage makes sense. Having your child explain her choice is another metacognitive task. With Learn Click, you can create cloze activities easily for your child. There are examples on the site, so begin there. Once your child gets more skilled, have her create them for you



  • BBC Bitesize KS2
  • 60Second Recap: Lets you grasp the essence of great works of literature in an accessible way, to supplement your reading.
  • Opposite Ocean: Work on opposites with various levels of difficulty.
  • Homophone games and other grammar activities.
  • Charlotte’s Web
  • Build a city of the future by classifying words in a series, using context cues.
  • Build corrals for cows by answering questions using context cues.
  • Tikatok: Online publishing program that will walk your child through story creation to story completion. Lots of support for reluctant writers, but infinite creative possibilities as well. Free to publish online, but adding sound or purchasing a hard copy is fee-based.
Reading Comprehension
Milestones & Expectations
Age 13
Age 12
Age 11
Reading Support
Middle School
Learning and Cognitive Development