Canadas Homeschool Alberta 3.2 Winter : Page 9

LEARNING REsOuRCE ReADeRS Don’T GueSS! The goals of reading are to understand the printed word, to make use of new ideas and to apply what you have read. Decoding and fluency are important reading skills. Good readers do not guess at words but use accurate phonetic skills to ‘figure out’ the words. Research suggests that weak readers ‘guess’ at words by recognizing parts instead of decoding the word from the beginning through to the by Gail McDougall, BSc., Cert Ed , Educational Consultant end. Good phonics skills allow a reader to read print more effectively. A child should be able to hear and distinguish difference and sameness in speech sounds, be able to isolate sounds and be able to break up words into separate sound units. Phonics instruction builds decoding skills. A child needs to be able to match sound-symbol accurately and blend the sounds to make words. If a child struggles to sound-out each word reading comprehension will suffer. After learning to decode, the reader needs to learn to read quickly and fluently to help increase the understanding of the text. Research has shown that encouraging an opportunity to read aloud, not silently, enhances the process of fluent reading. It has been shown that listening comprehension usually develops at a faster pace than reading comprehension. For a child to be able to understand what is read there has to be an understanding of language when it is read aloud. To make sense of reading, the reader needs a mastery of language skills, including: • Learning new words and meanings -introduce and explain new unknown words • Examining word parts and usage -attach meanings to prefixes and suffixes and develop an awareness of word pronunciation and meaning change • understanding figures of speech and parts of speech -knowing what synonyms, antonyms, etc. are and phrases such as “faster than the speed of light”, etc. GooD • Knowing the rules of grammar -being able to construct meaningful sentences with the required parts of speech and grammar • Acquiring background knowledge -the child should have some familiarity with the subject being read or the text will have little meaning and the ability to gain an appreciation and understanding of the writing will be lost. A reading buddy can help comprehension. A reading buddy can be a parent, teacher, friend, sibling or assistant with whom the child shares reading aloud. Many options and opportunities to talk about and write about a reading will assist with the understanding of the reading. A way to strengthen reading comprehension skills is to ask questions while reading a book. Here are some “Who, What, When, Where, Why” (5W) questions you could ask: • what has happened so far? • what do you think will happen next? • what does this word mean? • did you find out anything you did not know before? • what is the main idea? • did you like the story? Why? Why not? • is there any part that you are not sure of? • did this all make sense to you? • did this remind you of any other story you have read? In the beginning, model these questions and discuss the answers with your child. Try to maintain motivation and apply these strategies before, during and after reading to reinforce the material. Reading comprehension relies on interconnected skills: understanding the language, decoding words, reading fluency, and questioning for comprehension. It is important to develop skills in all the areas because a difficulty in any one area can lead to a breakdown in the reading process v ADDITIonAL ReSouRCeS -free subscriber newsletter for parents on current topics, book lists, parent strategies, school strategies, and other resources, especially those with a special needs child. Reading Instruction that Makes sense by Mary Tarasoff -describes the process of reading as well as strategies, sight words, etc. that are assists in developing this process WINTER 2007 IssuE 9

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