I know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me. If you remember, I stopped blogging because I broke my wrist. Truth be told, the wrist has been healed for several weeks now, but somehow writer’s block and a busy life combined to keep me quiet. Sorry about that!
Most schools have been in session for at least a month. This year, three of our nine (soon to be ten) grandchildren, took the big leap into first grade. From all accounts, they are loving it! I thought I would begin blogging again by discussing three important ways to support your early readers when you are listening to them read aloud.
Early readers improve rapidly when they receive support at home and have adults who are willing to listen to them read their independent books. However, that very practice can be counterproductive if adults don’t understand a few basic techniques to build the child’s confidence and help their child get the most out of reading aloud.
Although there are others, the three most important things to remember when you are listening to a novice reader are:
- Encourage the child to look at the pictures. Some adults think they should cover the pictures because they provide too many clues for the child. The opposite is true. When the reader has an idea of what is occurring in the story, it sets him up for success. The pictures provide important cues that will enable comprehension and help the child read the words correctly.
- “Say a little more” – When your child is stuck on a word, encourage your child to make the first sound, then say a little more. Suppose, for example, your child was stuck on the work “tick” in this sentence: Ben could hear the clock tick. At that point, you could say…”Make the first sound.” Assuming your child made the sound of t, you would. then prompt, “Say a little more.” Hopefully, your child would blend the t and i sounds, getting enough information to come up with the correct word. Perhaps, he will still need to “say a little more” and add the ck ending sound to figure it out. It’s fine if your child is unable to decode the word, but providing a strategy that he can use is invaluable and “say a little more” is an easy, workable one to employ with early readers.
- Give a “three-second told” – Keep in mind that comprehension is always the goal of reading. If a young child spends too much time trying to decode a word, often the sense of the story gets lost. Use the process described above if your child is stuck, but don’t allow more than three seconds for the child to decode the word. In your head count one-one hundred, two-one hundred, three-one hundred, slowly. At that point, tell your child the word and move on.
Opening up the world of reading with your child is a wonderful adventure. Your willingness to listen to your child read will enhance fluency, build confidence and develop a love of reading. Armed with a few essential strategies, reading time can become a favorite activity for both of you.
It’s natural to have a lot of questions as your child begins learning to read in earnest. Please share your questions and I’ll do my best to answer. Your successes and comments will foster learning for others, so bring them on as well. Let’s partner on this reading journey!