When helping your child read at home, several strategies may be use to aid in decoding unknown words.
- Tell the child to look at the picture. If the word is something that can be seen in the picture, let the child know.
- Tell the child to look for chunks in the word, such as it in sit, or at in mat, or and and ing in standing.
- Ask the child to get his/her mouth ready to say the word by shaping the mouth for the beginning letter.
- Ask the child if the word looks like another word he/she knows. Does cook look like look?, for example.
- Ask the child to go on and read to the end of the sentence. Often by reading the other words in context, the child can figure out the unknown word.
- If the child says the wrong word while reading, ask questions like: Does it make sense?Does it sound right? Does it look right?
More information for you
“The book you sent home was too easy for my child.” Sometimes parents think the books sent home are meant to be challenging. However, it's important to remember that the book your child brings home has been read in a guided reading session. Your child and I have already worked on the word-decoding, fluency and comprehension. It is very normal for the reading to seem easy. It should be! That's proof your child did a great job remembering everything we worked on that day!! However, just because the book seems easy does NOT mean you shouldn't have your child read it. Good readers become great readers by reading! Just ask any great musician how they got that way, and they'll tell you practice, practice, practice! Each time a musician play a piece, he/she works on rhythm, tempo and expression. When readers practice reading over and over, they work on fluency, expression, and comprehension. Try using the following questions before, during or after your child has read.
Can we talk about the story? When you see the cover/title, start a conversation. For example, "Oh, look at the dog. He looks naughty. Remember when Fido used to chew on our shoes? Do you remember what we had to do?" If your child stops in the middle of their reading to say what may sound like an off-topic remark, give them a chance. Many times what the child is reading will remind them of something from their own life. ("Just like when we had to take Fido to dog school.") When children make connections from their reading to their lives, it shows that they are making meaning. This is a great thing! Remember, the child who can't carry on a conversation about their reading probably didn't understand what they read!
When your child finishes reading the book, continue the conversation. You could ask questions like: "What was your favorite part?" OR "Does that story remind you of our family?" OR "What would you do if you were the dog's owner?" Don't worry if your child finds this tricky at first. This is a tough skill to learn! But, with your support at home, your child will show that he/she can make meaning when they are reading!