How to Help and Support a Reader

The ultimate goal is to teach your child to be an independent reader who reads for meaning and fixes mistakes when reading doesn't make sense.

It is very important to have books that aren't too difficult. If there are too many mistakes in a row a child can't fix mistakes on his or her own. Nothing sounds right. It all sounds wrong. If most of a child's reading sounds right, he or she will be able to stop and fix small mistakes when they happen.

Don't be a helicopter and swoop in to tell exactly which word was wrong and how to fix it. Give your child some thinking time. Give help and support when asked. Help a child sound out a word when asked. If it is too hard to sound out, you can tell the word and move on.

The next pictures demonstrate what questions a reader should be asking themselves to grow into an independent reader.

A reader needs to stop when something doesn't make sense. Teach a reader to read from the beginning of a sentence that didn't make sense. A reader may want to check out the picture, think about what has already happened in the story, decide which word or words didn't sound right, and look closely at words as a sentence is read again.

Reading should match the way a person talks. Sometimes a reader is reading and everything sounds right until the next word is read and immediately it stops sounding like a person would talk. The syntax or language structure isn't right. A reader needs to stop, reread from the beginning of the sentence, and fix which words he or she read incorrectly. A supportive adult may stop a reader and say, "Something didn't sound right. Did you notice that? Next time you can stop and reread the sentence on your own. I bet you'll figure out which words you read wrong. Try it now. Let's see if you can fix this sentence."

Sometimes reading makes sense, but a word doesn't look right. I usually don't stop a child's reading when everything makes sense. For example if a reader reads a for the. I choose my battles and be as supportive as I can. A reader may notice themselves that a word didn't look right and fix it. If there is a  consistent problem I will direct a child's attention to looking closer at the letters in words.


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