Parents Guide for Beginning Readers

There are three distinct approaches to the explicit instruction of teaching reading. Phonics instruction which associates the sound and symbol relationship for the phonemes in the language being taught. The “whole-word” approach, where a child recognizes at a glance specific vocabulary words. The “whole-language” method where literature is incorporated, reading is meant to be fun and the child is encouraged to determine what word makes sense based on the context of the literature and current knowledge. These methods have distinct philosophical underpinnings, but research has shown that teaching phonics is more successful than letting a child infer phonetic principals. Often phonics is supplemented with whole-language activities.

Successful reading takes practice. The more successful a child is at reading, the more they will enjoy reading and the more they will read. Given how important strong reading skills are to academic abilities, it is natural that parents want to encourage and help their children as much as possible.

First, avoid making reading a battle. Reading together should be a pleasurable activity where a child can spend time with mom and dad and show you how much progress they are making. You can provide a bit of help when needed. It should never be, a forced activity that has to be done before a child can “play.”

When reading new material with your child, your strategies may be different depending on if they are reading simple words or early readers. Give your child the option to read to you, listen while you read or read together. Then they might want to read alone. If the words are part of a word family, you can remind him/her that the words rhyme and what do you think it might be if the first letter starts with “__.”

With early readers, be sure that you give your child 5-10 seconds of waiting time to solve the problem of reading a specific word. It takes a lot of work to decode a word at times. Fluency and comprehension come later!

Some specific responses include:

“What word makes sense there?”
“What is the first sound? What word with that sound might fit? Is that the word?”
“Use the picture to guess what it could be?”
“Let’s sound it out together.”

Written by Tracy Crawford, Director Roots N Wings Montessori School