Here are 4 simple strategies to help your child read better.
Would you like to improve your child’s reading? I’m often asked “How can I help my child read?” where my other post explores creating an environment for successful reading, this post will explain 4 strategies you can implement to help your child read better. I have kept these as simple as possible, so please reach out in the comment section if you would like further guidance or clarification.
Let’s get to the technical side of reading. Below are a few different strategies I use daily in the classroom. Try these with your child while reading together. Most children will be aware of some strategies from school. Sometimes when children get stuck on a word or phrase, they have many different strategies running through their head and are unsure which one to choose and commence. This is where the adult is able to help them and direct them to a strategy.
1. Sound It Out
I know this might seem a little obvious, but to support reading sometimes a child needs to hear your strategy so they see how a sound works. Afterall, there are a lot of rules and exceptions in the English language. Monkey see (hear), monkey do. Some words are easier to sound out than others. Sound out blends and digraphs together so your child understands how sounds can change when two letters are placed together.
For example a blend is two sounds that should be said in conjunction such as the word “blue” really needs the “b” and “l” spoken as “bl”, not as individual sounds. A digraph is when two letters together make a completely different sound and can’t be traditionally sounded out, like “s” and “h” together don’t make ” ssss and hhh” they make the sound “sh”.
This is a reading strategy you can use to support your child by helping them break down a word into smaller words or recognisable sounds. Look for patterns such as word families your child already knows so they can apply their prior knowledge (some common word families are -at -et – ab -ail -ame). Help your child figure out sounds within the word then re-say the beginning sound until they make the link between the sound and the word.
For example if stuck on “trail” cover the ”tr” and brainstorm where else your child might have seen this ending (mail, bail, nail, snail etc) then make the “tr” sound and let you child put the two sounds together.
3. Rhyming Association
Rhyming association is a great way to quickly overcome barriers with several unconventional spelling rules in the English language. When your child is stuck on a word that cannot be sounded out especially due to silent letters, tell them ‘it rhymes with……’. This is similar to chunking and using word families. As your child gains exposure to these strategies connections will start to form between sounds and word patterns for the next time they see a similar word.
For example your child is stuck on ‘night’, you could say ‘it rhymes with tight’ and acknowledge there’s a silent letter in the word. This helps your child gain confidence knowing it’s not a lack of their ability, but tricky word structure in the English language.
4. Read On
If your child becomes stuck on a word and is struggling to successfully implement the above strategies, encourage them to skip the word and read the rest of the sentence. This will allow your child to create meaning from the context of the sentence and access their knowledge of words that may correctly fit, and see if they have the right sounds in the word.
For example if your child is stuck on “chasing” within the sentence “the cat is chasing the mouse around the house”, encouraging them to skip the word, read the rest of the sentence, look at the picture for context. They might say “running after”, explore if the word “chasing” has the right beginning sounds for “running after”. I make a decision based on the child’s attention span or self confidence as to how many attempts, or time I spend exploring different words before modelling the sounding out process or simply sharing the word with them.
Take Away Message
I would encourage you to focus on one or two of these strategies at a time to let your child achieve success in their reading journey. Depending on where your child is currently working at, some strategies may work better than others. Children can find it overwhelming to recall the correct strategy to implement at the time of need. Your simple advice will assit your child more than you realise and increase their reading capacity.
As always, please reach out if you have specific questions or concerns.
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