Your child has learned the letters of the alphabet, the sounds the letters make, and has mastered several sight words. He is ready to put it all together. He is ready to read! You eagerly choose a book for him and he tries his best. He reads some of the words and you're really proud of him. But he becomes frustrated when he frequently runs into words he doesn't know. It's important to combat this frustration head on so it doesn't snowball into a dislike for reading. It's time to teach some reading strategies.
Reading strategies are methods your child can use to decipher and make meaning of unfamiliar text within a story. Similar to the way a soccer player learns to maneuver the ball around his opponent to score a goal, a young reader needs a plan to navigate unfamiliar words when reading independently, all while maintaining the overall meaning of the text.
There is only one way to teach reading strategies and that is to model them. As you read with your child, incorporate some engaging strategies when a word seems challenging. While doing this, it's important to remember to: (1) teach one strategy per story so as not to confuse a beginning reader; and (2) not let the side discussions/explanations detract from the meaning of the story.
Every child should have the following strategies in their pocket, so to speak. They are methods all readers use right into adulthood.
- Picture clues
- Rhyming patterns
- Sounding it out
- Looking for smaller words within the unknown word
- Asking self, "Does this make sense?"
- Asking for assistance
As your learner becomes comfortable with one strategy, you can then move on to teaching another. When he is familiar with several strategies, he'll begin to use them interchangeably. This is a learner who is becoming an independent reader.