Wednesday, June 16, 2010

day 162: summertime—beginning reading help—tutoring your child yourself without a program part i of ii

If you decide not to hire a tutor or tutoring service, but to help your child yourself without a specific phonics program, you will likely have a lot of success! (Parents make awesome teachers! )

I have taught dozens of people, from ages five to sixty-five, how to read through the years, and I just feel compelled to share some tips (why do I always have this compulsion??? LOL!):

1. Do not be tempted to get caught up in questioning your child about everything he reads to you in an effort to “build comprehension” at this stage. As I said before, during the early reading years, comprehension is built much better through “listening comprehension.”* That is, through listening to you read aloud, listening to audio materials, discussion, etc. Again, at this stage, focus on helping your child learn to sound out or recognize words in anything you place before him (starting with picture books and then moving on).

2. See where you need to start and go from there. Yes, you might want to review what he learned and remembers from school this year, but remember that time is of essence here. Thus, see what he already knows well and branch out. If, for example, you see that he knows all of his short vowel and long vowel sounds, but gets stuck on digraphs (ow, oy, etc), review the sounds he knows quickly, provide lots of readers with those sounds, and move into the sounds that he does not know.

3. Understand that the hardest part of learning to decode for a child is often “blending” or “chunking” the sounds together. This is one benchmark of readiness that we teach parents in our homeschooling workshops to watch for—and where reading often breaks down for younger kids who have not reached reading readiness. A little one may learn that when he sees the “at” combination, he should say it “at.” However, when he tries to put the consonant before the “at,” he gets stuck and cannot blend it all together. I always knew that when my kids could recognize the families but not put them together with the beginning consonants, consonant blends, etc. on a consistent basis, they probably need a little more readiness time before we dig into learning to read.

*Listening comprehension tip: If you are truly concerned about comprehension in your struggling word-caller, you should know a little tip about listening comprehension. Listening comprehension level is the level at which a child can comprehend what he hears. Obviously, there are many factors involved in listening comprehension level—such as learning styles, presentation of information, interest level, etc. (but that is the case with reading comprehension, too). However, generally speaking, your child’s reading comprehension level (if he were able to sound out words easily) would be similar to his listening comprehension level at that time. I always tell parents that if they get their child up to “word calling level,” he will be able to comprehend that level easily, provided he can comprehend at that level when listening. Again, we focus on building listening comprehension extensively while a child is learning to read—and let the child labor hard learning to decode.

…continued tomorrow…


  1. You have good advice. I have a blog devoted to offering parents tips and resources to teach beginning readers. I found your post by searching the name of my blog. Please accept these three related links.

    Here are some of my recommended beginning reader books.

    Your advice to provide lots of readers with the sounds a child knows and move into the ones a child doesn't know is great. Here's a way to move into the sounds a child is learning.

    Here's a way to help teach blending sounds.