January 29, 2013

More Reading Strategies

I did a post on some tips for helping young readers last week, and I said I'd have some more ideas this week.  Well, here they are.  These are tools you can teach your reader to use any time he/she doesn't know a word.  A lot of times the reader will stop at a hard word and do nothing.  Then what do you do?  Often times it's hard to know how to help.  Once you've practiced these strategies over and over, your reader will have several options to try!  The idea is to help your reader do these independently, so even if you're not right there to help, your reader will know what to do.


Here are some of my favorite strategies to help young readers.


*Look at the picture
  Don't ever be afraid of letting your child "cheat" (it's not) by using the picture to figure out a word.  Pictures carry meaning, and in most beginning reading books, the pictures are there to help!  When your child looks at the picture, it demonstrates that he/she understands the picture is related to the words.  How smart!  This is often the easiest strategy for young readers.  You can learn a lot from a picture.

*Say the beginning sound
Saying the beginning sound is a simple way to get your reader headed on the right track for a tricky word.  At times, your reader won't even have to sound out the rest of word if the beginning sound is there.

*Look for a little word in a big word
Sometimes a big unfamiliar word can be really overwhelming to look at (I still experience that).  Ask your reader to look for a small word (or part of a word) that they can see hiding inside the big word.  Breaking the big word down into smaller familiar parts makes a big new word much more manageable. 

*Sound it out
This is probably the strategy most parents go to when helping their child read.  This isn't a bad strategy by any means, and often times is the best one.  It can also be a disaster (try to sound out the word 'could').  Just don't let you child get hung up on thinking this is the only way to figure out a new word.  Let your reader know this is one of many strategies to try.  When your child reads, look for words that are easy to sound out (sit, camp, red,...) and have them try this strategy on them.

*Skip the word, then go back and reread
This strategy is a bit more advanced than the others, but can make all the difference.  As your child reads, have he/she hum the tricky word and keep going to the end of the sentence.  At the end of the sentence, ask, "what would make sense there?".  Once the child knows, have he/she go back and reread the sentence with the correct word.  
Here's an example:
'The siren (tricky word, so hum it) on the fire engine was loud.'  
After reading the sentence, ask what would make sense here.  Now horn would make sense, but don't forget to say the beginning sound as well.  Siren would make sense and look right here.
Often times hearing the rest of the sentence can offer all the help needed to figure out the word.  ALWAYS make sure your reader goes back to reread after using this strategy.  Don't let your child think he/she can hum every tricky word. :)

As you teach these strategies, help your reader understand the strategies can be used together, and sometimes one works better than the other.  Often times your child might need to try two or three strategies before a word can be figured out.  Also, once in awhile, it's okay to tell your child a word.  You don't want frustration to be the overall feeling when it comes to reading.  Keep a nice balance between supporting your child as he/she reads, and allowing your reader to work for a word. 
I hope some of these were helpful.  You can print out the strategies here.  Happy reading!
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