Successful Early Readers have a toolbox of strategies that they fall back on when encountering challenging text. Here are a few strategies I used in the classroom and at home with my daughter. These are widely used in primary classrooms, so there’s a good change your school-aged child has heard one or more before.
- Get My Mouth Ready- This one may sound silly, but it can be helpful for kids who have a reluctance to read or fear of making a mistake. Sometimes a reminder as simple as getting your mouth ready to read can nudge a child to take that leap into reading!
- Point and slide my finger under the words- This is also known as “tracking” and is very helpful to beginner readers. Your child should use his or her finger to point to the text (actually, just under each word) while reading. Demonstrating ( or modeling) this as you read to your child is a great way to reinforce directionality (we read left to right) and to show how to keep track of where one is in a sentence.
“Have the child use their ‘reading finger’ in the learning stage. Not only does this motion help engrain necessary left-to-right processing but pointing at sounds also helps the child focus on and correctly process individual sounds within the word. It improves attention to detail as well as proper left-to-right tracking.” Directional Tracking Explained: Why Directional Tracking Is Essential for Reading Development & How to Teach Your Child or Student Proper Directional Tracking
- Think what makes sense– Encourage your child to ask, “Did what I just read make sense to me?”. This is a good way to self-monitor whether or not what was just read was read correctly. For example, if your child mistakenly read, ‘I look to read’ instead of “I like to read”. Rather than correcting, say, “I heard you read, “I look to read”. Does that make sense to you?”
- Look at the picture– Good Early Reader Books have strong correlations between the illustrations and text. Children who are beginner readers should be encouraged to use the pictures to help guide their reading. *As they progress, and move on to more challenging texts, the picture to text correlation will decrease and they will gradually rely less on this connection
- Look for chunks that you know-Larger words can often be broken down into more manageable chunks by finding parts of the word that are easily readable. For example, picture can be broken down into the chunks pic and ture, then put back together into the complete word. *Oftentimes identifying and sounding out one chunk triggers recognition of the word as a whole, so this strategy can be beneficial in two ways.
- Stretch out the word- This strategy is similar to looking for chunks, but is looking at smaller sounds (phonemes or individual letter sounds). For example, can is broken down into the sounds /c/ /ă/ /n/. As with looking for chunks, encourage your child to put the words back together again once he our she has sounded out all the “parts”.
- Read it again- This can be very helpful, especially if a child was having to work hard on sounding out words within a sentence or page. Encourage and allow them to re-read. This gives your child a chance to pull back and get a better understanding and enjoyment of what was read.
I hope you find these strategies and explanations helpful!
Comments? Suggestions? Please share!
Jennifer Rustgi developed a love of children’s literature during her years teaching reading as an elementary school teacher and became inspired to write her own stories through her experiences with her young daughter. She lives in Austin, Tx. with her family. A Moon of My Own is her second children’s book. Learn about A Moon of My Own and purchase here.