Encouraging and demonstrating a love of reading is vitally important in developing literate and passionate readers.
We suggest that parents provide their children with frequent and varied access to books – through visits to the library, as gifts, and through regular family reading sessions. In an earlier blog, I have shared my top tips for developing a love of reading in boys.
Parents need to demonstrate their own reading fluency. Read aloud to your child from quality children’s books will model fluent reading. Adopting a lot of expression also makes the experience more enjoyable for your child.
To encourage a love of reading, it also helps to build confidence. For this reason, I suggest providing plenty of opportunities for your child to practice reading aloud with easy books. Use books that your child has already mastered decoding. This way your child can focus on their fluency rather than decoding. The books your child’s teacher sends home will have been chosen for this purpose. Teacher’s call them ‘just right’ books. Their purpose is to build fluency and confidence.
But creating a love of learning and promoting the ‘right’ reading techniques is a balancing act. Knowing when to correct reading technique or help your child and when to hold back is a fine art.
So, what can you do when your child gets stuck on a word? I have found success with the ‘Stop Light’ strategy:
- RED: Don’t say anything. Count to five slowly in your head. This gives your child a few moments to try to problem solve on their own. Many boys are in the habit of just waiting for someone to tell them the unknown word. Encourage them to try it on their own.
- AMBER. Go slow. Think about which strategy or prompt would be most useful to help him problem solve. If he hasn’t figured out the word continue to green.
- GREEN. Share a strategy or prompt. Initially only give general guidance because we want the reader to fix the error with minimum help from us. For example, “Have a look at the letters in this word again. What sound does /ar/ make?” Or “what sound does the word begin with? Does that make sense and match the letters that are there?”
These sort of prompts give clues about the word. If your child still does not read the word correctly after two prompts, you should tell them the word and move on. This may be a word you can look at separately before you read the book next time, or put into a new word reading list for them to practice.
Finally, when your child brings home ‘readers’, make sure that this isn’t the only reading they do. Provide incentives for your child to want to return to books of their own choosing in order to foster their own interest in reading and build literacy skills.
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