We all know the Rules!
- 19 April, 2016
- Posted by: Katrina Casey
- Category: Reading
You know the rules!
We all know the rules, right? You know the ones that are repeated, time and time again.
“If your child does not know the word – sound it out!”
“Learn these sight words.”
Well let me tell you a story about a little girl named Sophie.
Sophie was in Year One and was not doing so well with her reading. Her mother told me that Sophie could sound out words, and knew all of her sight words. She did not understand why Sophie was not reading at a higher level at school.
On her arrival at my Learning Centre, I went through the usual exercises to help me decide where Sophie was, and what would be the best approach to teach her to read.
Firstly, I went through a list of high frequency words. No problems here, Sophie quite quickly and confidently rattled through a list of around 100 words.
Then we tried word decoding skills. This is where I showed Sophie a word, and asked her to ‘sound it out’. Sophie was amazing!! Sophie could sound out three-letter words, four letter words, and words that include more complex sound patterns (e.g. down = d+ow+n).
What was going on? Sophie could decode words and she had quite an extensive vocabulary.
Then I asked Sophie to read. To my surprise, Sophie was a very fluent, and expressive reader.
And then it all came crashing down! I asked Sophie to tell me about what she had read.
“Ah, um, mmm,” said Sophie. “I don’t really know.”
And that was the problem –Sophie didn’t understand that reading was about meaning. That it was about understanding what had just been read, and making connections between the characters, settings and events. Sophie had been concentrating so hard on sounding out words, and memorising lists, that she hadn’t taken any notice of what it was, that she was actually reading.
So let me add a third, and what I think, is the most important rules for reading:
Sight Words (vocabulary) + comprehension + phonetics = reading.
“Reading is about meaning!”
Ask your child about what they have read, and check their understanding. If Sophie reminds you of your child, go back to shorter texts, and concentrate on reading for meaning.
Until next time,