Based on my own experiences as a teacher, I have found that when parents read with their kids, most of them encourage their child to “sound out” unfamiliar words. It is how most of us learned how to read as kids. Remember those days?
Photo Credit here.
While Phonics methods are helpful for learning how to read, children need strategies other than the infamous “sound it out” to figure out (decode) words. Sure, Phonics rules are important but they are not the only tools available to kids. We should be teaching kids a variety of reading strategies.
Here are a few strategies I teach my First Grade students …
Look at the illustrations for clues that may help you figure out an unfamiliar word. Sometimes simply looking at the illustration is hint enough to what we may be reading about.
Beginning and ending sounds
“Look at the first letter of that word and the last letter of the word. Do you know another word that starts with that letter? What sound does that letter make?”
Cover the last part of the word with your finger and say the first part of the word only. Now cover that part and say the last part of the word only. Can you find a smaller word you know in that word?
Stretch It Out
Read with your finger and say it slowly.
Skip It & Come Back
Keep reading until the end of the sentence and then go back to the word you got stuck on and try again.
Ask for Help
If your child has tried all of the strategies and they are still stuck, it is fine to tell your child the word.
Does It Make Sense?
“Does the word you’re trying to read make sense in the sentence? If not, try re-reading the entire sentence again”. Read an unknown word in the context of a sentence can often help a child a mystery word.
These reading strategies are taught one at a time. They are reviewed on a daily basis and students are encouraged to try a different strategy when one doesn’t help. What may help one student to figure out an unknown word, may not help another. Keep in mind that every child is at different stages of their reading development. Parents should never compare a child’s ability or reading level to that of a sibling or friend. Keep reading fun and stress-free and you will grow life-long readers in your children.
If you missed my post about how Sight Word Rings can help to improve the fluency of your child’s reading, just click here.