Teaching reading is not rocket science, no it is harder that that! We start with decoding: breaking up words into sounds and blending the letters together. Then, of course, there are those words that don’t work and we call these high frequency words (like ‘when’ and ‘because’).
As parents we all try to listen to the stumbling child performing decoding until at last they can read!
Then we sometimes listen to them reading more difficult books and think, “This can’t be rocket science – it’s not that difficult,” … but there is more.
To become good readers, children must be able to decode and read fluently, using punctuation like road signs to help them read with expression and begin to understand the text as they read.
Once children get to this point, sadly, in my experience this is where both school and home begins to let go of the reader and starts something called “comprehension” - which for most children is a written task…but it’s not. It is a reading task.
As adults we all decode, read fluently and comprehend the text at the same time - sometimes flipping back a page to remember a name. Perhaps(?) this is reading!
My plea to parents is to take on the challenge of making your child a good reader. Continue to read with your children aloud and together until they have cracked the code completely and can do the decoding+fluency+comprehension. In other words – until they become a good reader!
It has been found that students that are not able to do all three components of reading do not do well in exams and tests. Their reading comprehension speed is too slow, so the time to write their responses is shortened. This makes written answers clipped and not fully explained. This has never been more the case than in the current test system.
Parents – nudge!
There are lots of activities that can help. One of my favourites is “nudge nudge”!
Sit close to your child so that your elbows can touch. One of you starts reading and then when you want to stop you nudge the other person and they start and so it continues…
What does this achieve? Well for children who have a level of reading that does not enable them to read the books they want it means that the adult can read the big exciting parts and move the story along while the child can read less difficult parts. It also is fun and because the nudge can come at any time, so you have to watch the text carefully so you don’t get caught out.
Try it and see!
By Jane Williams, MagiKats Franchisee for Cardiff Llandaff North.
Who am I?
I am an experienced headteacher, overseas school inspector and education consultant. I have studied reading for children throughout my 35 years in education. Now, I am also a MagiKats franchisee and see children in my centres read and improve their reading fluency every week.