Are you a parent who needs easy ideas to help your beginning reader? Here are some simple tips to use when helping your child learn to read a book aloud and to comprehend simple text.
Tips Before Reading:
Help your child choose a book that he is interested in. Discuss the front cover of the book. Talk about things he already knows about the pictures, which will help him access prior knowledge. Help him make some predictions by asking, “What do you think this story will be about?”
Take a picture walk through the book. Talk about what is happening in each picture and don’t focus on the words on the page at first. Then, look for familiar words on each page.
Tips During Reading:
If you child comes to an unknown word, there are several strategies that you can use to help him learn to read the word. Of course, most parents begin with “sound it out” which is a beginning point. You may also say, “Get your mouth ready to say the word.” Here are other things to try:
While reading the sentence, say “blank” or cover up the difficult word, then read on to the end of the sentence if the word is in the middle of the sentence. Go back, reread the sentence and try to see what would make sense in the sentence. Ask, “What word could that be? Here is an example: “It begins with the letter p, which makes what sound?” Read the sentence again. ‘We saw a frog jump into the p____’. “What can a frog jump into?” Your child may also use the picture to help him figure out this word. Say, “What in this picture begins with the letter ‘p’ and would make sense in the sentence ‘We saw a frog jump into the p___’?” Then ask, “Does it look right? Does it sound right? Does it make sense?” or “What would sound right in that sentence?”
Look at and think of a word that rhymes with another word. “I know that word could be ‘log’ because it looks like/sounds like/rhymes with ‘dog’.” Reread the sentence and ask if it looks right, sounds right and makes sense in the sentence.
Look for word parts or chop the word into parts. Cover part of the word with your finger to help. Sometimes there is another word “hiding” inside. For example, the word “out” is a common word that beginning readers learn and know. If the unknown word is “shout”, cover everything before the vowel (the onset or “sh” in this case), showing the word “out”. Put the “sh” sound in front of the “out” word, and combine the sounds to read “shout”.
If vowel sounds are troubling, try a long vowel sound, and then try a short vowel sound. Even try saying “uh” in place of the vowel to see if that helps the word sound right and make sense.
It’s fine if your child doesn’t know how to pronounce a difficult name, like Mufaro, for example. Don’t allow him to get hung up on a name. You can tell the child the name or let him make an error with the name if it doesn’t change the meaning of the story.
Use the five-finger rule when selecting a new story to read. If there are five words on the page that your child is having too much difficulty with, the book may be too hard right now.
Stop in the middle of the story to let your child retell what has happened so far in the story. Ask what he thinks the problem is in the book. Ask “What do you think will happen next?”
Tips for After Reading:
Check the predictions made at the beginning of the story. Ask what the solution to the problem was. Or ask if there was a message or moral to the story.
Other questions to ask are: “Who?” “Did what?” “Wanted What?” “Why?”
Ask your child to summarize the story by telling the beginning, middle and ending parts in his own words. You may even ask him to retell the problem in the story, what the characters did to try to solve the problem, and how the problem was solved.
General Reading Tips:
Use text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world strategies. For instance, you can discuss or question what in the story reminds you or him of another story. Or, you can say something like, “What you just read reminds me of the time I _________” or “Does that remind you of anything that has happened to you?”
Keep reading aloud to your child even after he learns to read. So much is gained in hearing oral language and vocabulary. This also helps develop listening comprehension.
Encourage your child to read for pleasure and to gain meaning from the words, not to simply sound the words.
When your child is reading aloud, it is all right for him to use his finger to track words in the beginning. He should only use it if it is needed, though. He can let go of using his finger to track words as he becomes more competent.
Elementary teaching experience