Monday, December 27, 2010

How do I support beginning reading?

Ms. Dorothy,
My daughter is beginning to read phonetically. Her pre-school has her practicing blending letter sounds to "sound out words" but she doesn't know any sight words yet. Should I be using flash cards at home to help her learn some sight words? Is there a better way to teach her to read without being completely dependent on sounding it out? Or should I just leave it alone for now and let her learn in Kindergarten?
- Mom of a 4 year old.

If your daughter is beginning to read and enjoying it, there is no reason not to support her.

Find out from her preschool teacher what next steps they are planning to follow to help her grow as a reader, and (unless you completely disagree with their approach) align what you are doing at home to what she is learning in school.

More than likely she will begin to encounter simple sight words in the books she is already "sounding out" which will be a natural opening. Then you can practice finding those same sight words in other places - magazines you are reading, recipes while you are cooking together, bedtime stories you are reading to her.

Sometimes, when you are reading beginner books with her, you will need to supply the words she doesn't know, but encouraging her to check the pictures, or what seems to make sense to decide what the next word might be are great ways to build vocabulary. Then her reading will be more than sounding out words and sight words because she will begin to recognize words in context.

As long as you are giving her an enjoyable experience that involves time with you and books, she will learn to love reading. Then
all those different approaches to figuring out what a book says will become more natural to her.

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