Strategies To Help Your Child Learn To Read

How To Prompt Your Child as They Learn To Read

If your child has decided that he/she wishes to learn to read a book himself/herself and it is considered to be not easy or difficult but challenging (ie the child can read 90-94% of a text – there are up to 1 in 10 words that present a challenge) he/she will need your assistance.

Learn To Read

Parents often ask how do I ‘correct’ the ‘mistakes’ the child makes as the reading progresses. It is more positive and constructive to consider that you are ‘supporting’ your child’s reading rather than viewing their efforts as ‘wrong’ or ‘mistakes’.  If the book is challenging then your child is not going to get it all ‘right’ first time so you can use what are called ‘prompting strategies’ to assist your child.

Care needs to be taken in how frequently a child’s reading is interrupted as they learn to read a more difficult book. If a parent is constantly interjecting for every small error or omission, the child can easily become frustrated, even angry, and give up on the reading altogether. If the child does not lose the meaning and sense of the story, it is better to note the little errors and omissions mentally, then at the end of a page or a chapter or the book (wherever seems to be an appropriate place), go back and discuss them when the reading is finished.

It is very important to give your child ‘think time’ when a difficult word or sentence is encountered. This provides time for the child to problem solve the difficulty and problem solving in reading is very important as the child recalls what he/she knows about how print works, ways of decoding a word and his/her own reading strategies. Don’t forget to PRAISE your child’s attempts.

When the child stops or is stuck on a word:

WAIT – about 5 seconds

SAY – “Try that again”.

You may need to ask the child to start the sentence again to gather up the meaning, which may have been interrupted by the pause.

SAY – “Read the sentence again and say ‘blank’, or the beginning sound of the word you don’t know. Finish the sentence. Can you think of a word for ‘blank’ that would

  • make sense
  • sound right
  • fit the letters on the page?”

Try ALL three of these suggestions

LOOK – more closely at the unknown word.

Look for smaller known words or parts in the unknown word. Cover up parts of the word to assist the child in dividing it into chunks.

If the child still cannot discover what the word is:

TELL – the child the word. Re-read the sentence to gather up the meaning once more.

PRAISE – the child’s attempts and continue reading

If the child makes a mistake that DOES NOT make sense

WAIT – at least until the child finishes the sentence and even a little longer to see if the child self-corrects her mistake. If not:

ASK – “Did that make sense?” “Did that sound right?”

You may need to repeat the child’s version as she may not be aware of exactly what she said or may think that she has read it correctly.

ASK – “Where does it sound wrong?”

“What would fit there and make sense?”

Try all suggestions.

ASK – “Does the word you have guessed fit the letters on the page?”

If the word given by the child is correct, praise her and continue reading.

If the word given by the child is incorrect, do as before for when a child stops or is stuck on a word:

SAY – “Read the sentence again and say ‘blank’, or the beginning sound of the word you read incorrectly. Finish the sentence. Can you think of a word for ‘blank’ that would

  • make sense
  • sound right
  • fit the letters on the page”

Try ALL three of these suggestions

LOOK – more closely at the unknown word.

Look for smaller known words or parts in the unknown word. Cover up parts of the word to assist the child in dividing it into chunks.

If the child still cannot discover what the word is:

TELL – the child the word. Re-read the sentence to gather up the meaning once more.

PRAISE – the child’s attempts and continue reading

If the child makes a mistake that DOES make sense

WAIT – for self-correction, then either do nothing and continue reading, OR

PRAISE – the child for meaningful reading then say

LOOK – “Look more closely at this word”

SAY – “If the word is (say the word the child said) then what letter would you see at the start / middle / end?”

“What word would fit the letters that are here on the page?”

The child may self-correct and give the correct word.

If not:

TELL – the child the word. Re-read the sentence. Continue reading

(Prompting Strategies - based on a page produced by the NSW Department of School Education – Early Childhood Directorate – 1996)

 

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Shirley Fuller PSM

Shirley Fuller is passionate about improving the learning outcomes of students from preschool to Year 12 and beyond. Her experience includes secondary mathematics, science and physical education teaching, primary teaching in all subjects, librarianship and resource centre coordination, tutoring students in mathematics at secondary level and in preparation for some university courses.

She holds a Public Service Medal for her contributions to education.

Shirley has written a comprehensive Guide for Parents to help support children’s literacy in the home and social environment.

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