This is the second in the series, “How to help your child with reading homework.” Last we spoke about helping your child become an independent reader suggesting that it’s best to give your child control in the process of reading, for example they hold the book and turn the pages themselves. Teacher talk for this is being, “a guide from the side” not “a sage from the stage.”
Today we expand on that theme and answer the question, “What do you do when your child stumbles over words or stops and looks at you, wanting you to supply the word they can’t read?”
Do you just tell them the word? In most cases, my answer will be no. Why not?
What you are trying to achieve when teaching a child to read is independence. Simply, telling a child the word they don’t know takes away that independence. It get’s them looking towards you for the answer, not into the text. It doesn’t get them thinking. It doesn’t help them solve the problem.
So what do you do instead?
- Wait – count to five in your head
- Point to the initial sound and run your finger along the rest of the sentence
- Wait again
- Say, “Let’s read that sentence again and see if the word will pop out. The first sound is… (let them say it)… “OK let’s read from the start of the sentence…” You will be amazed by how well this works or
- Give a clue about the context. For example, “They are on a farm, an animal on the farm starting with h is ….” or
- Read on, til the end of the sentence. Then read back over the sentence.
- If the other strategies haven’t worked, tell your child the word. Then read the sentence and talk about the meaning of the unknown word in relation to the sentence.
Always encourage your child. If you are frustrated with their slow progress, think of how frustrating it is for them.
If you have any strategies or comments you’d like to share please do.
Next time we’ll talk about a simple little exercise you can do at home called transformations, great for readers at all levels.