When is Fake not Funny?

Many of us, especially our kids, consider Halloween the funniest and most enjoyable holiday of the year. During the month of October, fake scarecrows, witches, haunted houses,monsters and costumes are everywhere. Most of the time, this fake is fun!

When is faking not fun? You guessed it…when kids engage in fake reading. In elementary school, most teachers spend enough time with their students and allow enough independent reading time to spot a fake reader easily.

As students move to the middle school level, identifying a fake reader gets a bit trickier. Students are no longer in a self-contained classroom and by now, many of them have figured out how to play the game, becoming expert at reading the synopsis of a book, listening to other students and generally perfecting the ability to sound like they really read and understood the text.

Fake reading is no joke. When students persist in pretending and get away with it, it sets them up for failure. They know they can’t comprehend, but cover up the situation, which results in their failure to get the support they need.

Is you child a “fake reader” and if so, how can you intervene?  Take a little time over the next week or so to observe when your child is reading. Does he fidget constantly, stop reading and gaze into space, turn pages too quickly or too slowly?  Most of all, is your child able to discuss the text?  I don’t mean answer rote questions like who is the main character. I mean really explain the story and share his response with support from the text. If you see a pattern and are concerned, here are a few ways to offer support:

  • Talk to the teacher – Bring you concerns to the teacher and find out what she is seeing in school. Periodically, all of us read without thinking carefully. However, when this becomes a habit and a child tries to hide his lack of comprehension, there is cause for concern.
  • Preview what your child is reading and help him set a purpose for reading. When students have a reason to read, it helps them maintain focus and read with care.
  • Discuss the text with your child and provide background knowledge that will help him more easily understand the text. Oftentimes, a lack of background knowledge is at the core of confusion about the text.
  • Create a plan of attack with your child. For example, chunk the text into manageable parts. Let your child read independently, then discuss the text and return to parts that were difficult, helping your child to make sense of them. It is important for kids to know that rereading is a valuable strategy and often clarifies confusing text.
  • Make sure your child knows how to read dialogue. Remember, authors do not always let us know who is speaking. Show your youngster portions of dialogue that only use indentation to show a different person is speaking. Practice reading snippets of dialogue aloud with your child, alternating parts to help him get the hang of reading dialogue.
  • Pronouns are confusing. Show your child how to return to text and figure out who the pronoun refers to in the text.
  • Remind your child to use reading strategies. Setting a purpose for reading, chunking the text, visualizing, questioning, and synthesizing are all excellent ways to uncover meaning and enhance comprehension. Yes, they take a little time. But with practice, these strategies will become an integral part of your child’s reading repertoire.

October is a month of fun and fakery, but fake reading is one activity that is futile not fun. Let’s intervene and help our fake readers transform into authentic readers as soon as possible.









About Rita K.

Educator and Certified Reading specialist
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