Acquiring literacy can be a very complicated and sometimes difficult task for young children. I use a method called Guided Reading to present and practice the skills necessary for successful reading. A Guided Reading group consists of one to six children, all reading at about the same level of text. Ideally, each group meets for 10-20 minute daily lessons. During these lessons, we consistently revisit THE essential question for early readers: "What do you do when you come to a word you don't know?".
As adults, we often say, "sound it out" when a child comes to a word he/she doesn't know. For some children, this phrase can be very abstract and confusing. Children need to be taught multiple strategies (including phonics) in order to become successful readers. As the guided reading materials become more difficult, the students need to use more complex strategies, many times using several strategies at once, in order to problem solve through the text.
Students learn that reading has to look right, sound right and make sense! The following are the most common strategies I teach in order to help my young students accomplish this goal.
Strategies for Emergent Readers
One-to-one match-Use your finger to match up every word read with every word that is on the page.
Get your mouth ready-When you come to a word, automatically get your mouth ready for that first sound (you would be surprised at how powerful this one is!!!).
Check the picture-Use the picture to extract meaning from the story. This is not cheating! As texts become more difficult children will learn to rely on other strategies, including phonics.
Does that sound right?-Did what you read sound like a sentence someone would say (both in sentence structure and meaning)?
Re-read- Sometimes children need to go back and "clean it up" before they're able to problem solve through the difficult parts.
Look for chunks- Look for parts of words or whole words within the unknown word rather than sounding out letter by letter.
Read to the end- Skip the unknown word and read to the end of the sentence, then go back and try and figure out the unknown word by using meaning and sentence structure (What would sound right there?).
Think about the story-What would make sense?