A New Approach to Reading

My third-grader is a late reader. Actually, he’s more of a struggling reader. Since he was in kindergarten, we’ve worked through a number of different reading curriculums with only minimal success. We began focusing on sight words, and he did just a little better. So, when I had the opportunity to go to a reading workshop, I couldn’t wait. And it was well-worth it!

A New Approach to Reading

Many homeschooling reading curriculums focus on phonics, but as the workshop speaker pointed out, the English language has so many phonics rules that a child would have to learn over 80 to be able to apply them all. Reading, she said, requires three cuing systems: meaning, syntax, and visual.

  • Meaning: Does the sentence make sense?
  • Syntax: Is the grammatical structure of the sentence/book similar to how your child speaks? Does it sound right? For example, most children wouldn’t say “Dan can fan Nan.”
  • Visual: Does it look right? Does it match the pictures?

Good readers, the speaker explained, rarely have to sound out words; instead, they use all three cuing systems simultaneously and rapidly.

When a child reads a book independently, he should read at least 95% of the words correctly. If he is reading 90% – 94% of the words correctly, he still needs you to help him with it. If he is reading less than that correctly, don’t have him practice reading that book. He won’t gain anything from struggling through each word. Instead, find something simpler for him to read.

Without officially giving my child a score, I could tell the books he was reading were too difficult. He would struggle through each page, and then he couldn’t remember what he had read. I found some simpler books for him, and when he got stuck, I told him to look at the pictures for clues. Sometimes, when he didn’t know a word, he would just make one up. I told him it didn’t make sense, and that he should choose one that did. Although he didn’t always get it right, it was a good start.

The speaker also suggested working on a particular book or books for the week until he could read it perfectly. What a sense of accomplishment he would have at the end of the week!

Day 1 of changing our approach was a tough one, but by Day 2 he was reading books all the way through that he couldn’t read a couple of days earlier. Whereas before we had been concentrating on phonics, now we’re working on using all the cues. And he’s finally beginning to feel like a reader!

Homeschool Activities by SmartTutor.com

Article by Samantha Bell

Photo By timbu

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