The best way to help a beginning reader is to read with your child. It's important to read many books aloud to your child. It's also helpful to have beginning readers read aloud to caregivers. You can provide a supportive environment for a beginning reader by following a few before, during, and after reading strategies. This post is part of a back to school ideas series. I want to help parents have the best resources, from the first day, for helping their children succeed all year. If you are a teacher, you may share this information with the parents in your class by printing the free pdf at the bottom of the post. You may also be interested in these other free handouts for parents:
Easing First Day Worries
Supporting a Reader Before Reading
Provide a strong book introduction for beginning readersMany teachers talk about doing a picture walk before reading a book. Here's how to do a picture walk:
- Read the title and the author.
- Talk about the cover and make predictions about the book.
- Look through the pictures. Talk about the book and allow the child to talk about the book
Supporting a Reader During Reading
Use prompts when beginning readers are stuck.When a child is stuck on a word, try not to just say, "sound it out". While it is important to look at the print, reading is about getting the meaning of the text. Here are some prompts that will help your child look at the print and think about the meaning of the story.
- What would make sense there?
- Go back to the beginning and try it again.
- Look at the picture for help.
- Look at how the word begins. Make the first sound.
- What letter would you expect to see at the beginning of the word...? Are you right?
Help the child monitor the readingWhen a child monitors his own reading, he becomes more independent as a reader and a problem solver. You may notice some behaviors while your child is reading. Try some of these prompts when your child seems stuck.
Behavior: Your child pauses and seems to notice that something is not correct. (Even if they are actually correct)
- Wait for 10 seconds and allow your child time to work it out independently.
- Say, "Why did you stop?"
- Say, "Try something."
- Say, "What did you notice?"
- Don't interrupt the reading. Allow your child to keep reading the story. They may notice that it doesn't make sense and return to the page.
- At the end of the story, return the the page and say something like, "You said, "(insert mistake), were you correct?" Help your child problem solve rather than just correcting his/her mistake.
- It is important to encourage your early reader to use the picture for help. Don't discourage this behavior or cover the picture.
- It is important, however, to encourage your child to look at the print as well. Use some of these prompts to help your child look at print.
- Read it with your finger. Did it match?
- Point to each word.
- Were there enough words?
Supporting a Reader After Reading
Check comprehensionAfter reading the story, talk about the story with your child. You don't have to drill your child with questions, but one or two questions about the story can be helpful. Marie Clay says, "Good questions give the message that the whole story was the point of the reading activity." Don't look for tiny details, ask open-ended questions about the overall meaning of the story.
Other Comprehension ideas:Ask your child to retell the story.
On a beach ball, write the words, "characters, setting, problem, solution". Toss the ball to your child and have them answer questions about the various structures in the story.
Let your child generate questions about the story. These could be made into a simple game about the book.
Write a journal entry about the story. Tell a favorite part. Predict the next event. Answer a question about the book.
Make a craft to represent the main idea of the book. I share many book activities here at ready-set-read.com. Here are a few:
10 Little Fish by Audrey Wood
Birds by Kevin Henkes
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
David Goes to School by David Shannon
Nuts to You by Lois Ehlert
Plant a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Too Many Toys by David Shannon
The Popcorn Book by Tomie dePaola
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
There was an old lady who Swallowed a Shell by Lucille Colandro
Wacky Wednesday by Dr. Seuss
Using Prop Baskets with Fairy Tales
If you found the ideas in this post helpful and would like to share them with parents, I have provided a one page handout giving some of the basic information about easing first day worries. This would be a great handout to provide to parents at open house. There is a QR code provided on the handout. Parents seeking additional information can scan the code and find this blog post. Click to get your free printable on google drive.