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What should I do when my child makes a mistake while reading? | Ask Mrs. Brooke

Dear Mrs. Brooke,

My wife and I really enjoyed your article on reading aloud. We have read to our first grade daughter from the beginning and even though she is beginning to read more on her own now, we will continue to do so. However, do you have any ideas for parents to use when their child is reading and makes a mistake? We don’t want to correct her too much, but sometimes she reads words that are not there, skips words, repeats, or is even starting to read so fast that we think she doesn’t understand at times. We want to help her be the best reader she can become.

Thank you, Parents of a New Reader

Dear Parents of a New Reader,

How exciting it must be for you to watch your child beginning to read independently. A whole new world is opening up to her now and thanks to you and your wife reading aloud to her from the beginning, she will have increased comprehension, vocabulary, confidence, and most of all a love for reading! When your child is reading aloud you are wise in not wanting to correct her all the time, especially when she is just beginning to read. At the same time, I know it can be difficult as a parent “sitting on the sidelines” and not knowing when to interfere or what to even say when your child has difficulty. Below you will find some strategies that I give my own parents in my classroom to help support their beginning readers at home. Hopefully, these tips will help you and your wife to act more like an encouraging “coach”. And as parents we might remind ourselves of the saying, “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, but how you play the game.” Learning how to read is not always about getting a sound right or even leaving out a word in the sentence, but it is about making meaning. If your child is having difficulty comprehending what she is reading, then this is definitely where a timeout must be called and these strategies can be used. As her first and most important teachers, thank you for encouraging her to be the best reader she can be! Go Team!

Sincerely, Mrs. Brooke

What is a Parent to Do?

The following are some strategies to support your reader at home:

Your child is choosing books that are too easy

• What you can do: Ask them to go back, say the word they said in the sentence, and ask them if it makes sense.

Your child is looking at pictures and guessing

• Compliment your child for using pictures as clues, but have them go back and take a closer look at the letters in word/look for common ending in words.

Your child is looking at words and guessing

• Encourage them to read for meaning and look at the letters in the words/skip word and come back.

Your child is looking at first letter guessing the rest of the word

• Praise them for looking at first letter and then have them go back and slowly with their finger go under the whole word, ask if looks right and makes sense.

Your child is looking at first part and/or ending and guessing the middle

• Once again, praise them for looking at beginning/ending, but remind them that they need to take their time going slowly through a word (use your fingers to emphasize the middle).

Your child is mumbling over unknown words

• Encourage them to stop and reread … try to discover why they mumble, not sure how to read it or the meaning? Help them to use their strategies.

Your child is leaving off endings (s, ing, ed)

• Praise them for getting the beginning now have them focus on endings. If it always the same ending write a list of words and have the child add ending. Repeat and ask, “does it sound right?”

Your child is adding words that aren’t there

• Have them slow down, reread and encourage them to honor the author.

Your child is skipping or leaving out words

• Same as above and following along.

Your child is skipping lines

• Encourage using bookmark above words - this allows for them to read on.

Your child is reading slowly

• Compliment for being “careful readers” and encourage to read “how we talk."

Your child is reading too fast

• Once again, encourage to read “how we talk” and model good reading.

Your child is choosing books that are too difficult

• Help them choose a “just right” book - one that they can read with little errors, read fluently, and understand them the need to read more challenging books in order to get better.

Your child is choosing books that are too easy

• Find texts that interest them (non-fiction, magazines, comics, sports, directions, etc.) Provide books on tape, make sure texts just right, lots of praise.

Your child is not enjoying reading

• Encourage them to read around the word, ask what would make sense, look at pictures, tap into their background knowledge, think of synonyms, look at root word, dictionary last resort.

Your child is reading words but not sure the word meaning• Encourage your child to visualize, make connections (to self, other text, world event), question, infer, and retell. “Stop and think” throughout text.

Your child is reading words/passages correctly but not sure understanding

• Encourage your child to visualize, make connections (to self, other text, world event), question, infer and retell. “Stop and think” throughout text.

Your child is reading right through punctuation

• Model with or without punctuation and show how changes meaning, honor the author by reading the punctuation.

Your child is reading with little expression

• Model reading to them in monotone and then read with expression then have practice - be patient, this will come.

Your child is repeating lines or words

• Check if repeating for self-correcting or meaning-great, but if not check focus.

Your child is having trouble focusing

• Teach them to stop take a break, stretch, look around and reread.

Your child is resisting practice

• Encourage safe quiet place, just right books, discuss with child why, be there and be patient and loving, provide multiple situations to read and different people to read with.

Joy Brooke is the first and most important teacher of her four-year old son and two year old daughter. She resides in downtown Kirkland with her husband and two children. Brooke currently teaches AM Kindergarten at Ben Franklin Elementary in the Lake Washington School District. She is a National Board Certified teacher in Literacy: Reading- Language Arts/Early and Middle Childhood, holds a B.A. in Educational Studies and a M.A. in Educational Policy and Management from the University of Oregon. The opinions provided in this column do not reflect that of the LWSD or any other organization she is affiliated.

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