If Your Child Is Struggling

How can I help my child when he/she is struggling with reading?

  • Before your child reads a book, he/she should:   do a picture walk, make connections with the pictures (What does this story remind him/her of?  What is happening in the pictures?), and make predictions about what the story will be about.  This sets a purpose for reading ~ to confirm and/or revise predictions.
  • Try echo reading.  The parent reads a page or paragraph aloud, and the child immediately reads it back.
  • Try choral reading.  The parent and child reads text aloud at the same time.
  • Try partner reading.  The parent and child each takes a turn reading a page or paragraph aloud.
  • Have your child get into the practice of stating who/what each page or paragraph is about after it is read.  Comprehension is even more important than decoding (or reading) the words.
  • Kindergarteners through Level F (mid 1st grade) should be pointing to each word with 1:1 correspondence.
  • Visit my Sight Words page.  Sight Words  Be sure your child is learning to recognize these words/phrases automatically. 
  • Visit my 44 Phonemes page.  Phonemes   Be sure your child is aware of the various sounds and spelling rules.
  • Visit my Rimes ~ Not Rhymes page.   Rimes  Have your child practice these chunks in words for instant word recognition.
  • Contact me, Mrs. Araujo, for books at your child’s level or visit your public library with this list of books:  Book Levels A-JBook Levels K-PBook Levels Q and Up
  • Read my Expectations By Grade Level page.  
  • Have your child follow along to books on tape or CD.
  • If your child is stuck on a word, he/she should figure out the word on his/her own. Say the beginning letter sound, look for chunks he/she may know, sound it out, skip it, read on, go back, ask what would look right, sound right, make sense?
  • Visit my LiveBinders on my HOME page for interactive reading activities.
  • KEEP READING.  Children learn to read by reading.

Is your child’s reading issue a lack of:

What is Phonological/Phonemic Awareness?

Phonological Awareness forms the basis of phonics.  Phonics is the understanding that sounds and print letters are connected; this is the first step towards “reading.”

Phonemic Awareness is the specific ability to focus on and manipulate individual sounds in spoken words.  Phonemes are the smallest units of spoken language ~ there are 44 phonemes or sounds.  Phonemic Awareness is the foundation for spelling and word recognition skills.  It is one of the best predictors of how well a child will learn to read the words!  

Good Phonological/Phonemic Awareness means that the child can:

  • blend sounds in words
  • complete phoneme substitution activities
  • count syllables
  • rhyme
  • spell by sound
  • demonstrate understanding of individual sounds in words by using “chips” to represent each sound heard
  • play word and sound games

If he/she can’t, then:

  • Teach skill building in phonemes ~ awareness of sounds, rhyming, alliteration, isolating sounds, matching, categorizing, blending, segmenting, and manipulating phonemes, syllables.  See Phonemic Awareness.
  • Activities should be fun!  
  • Teach phonics systematically.  See:  Teach Your Child to Read.
  • If your child is struggling reading the words and is in grade 3 or up, then 1:1 or small group instruction in these skills is needed.  Speak to your child’s teacher!

What is Word Decoding and Phonics?

Decoding is “reading” the words.  It is the ability to apply knowledge of letter-sound relationships, including knowledge of letter patterns and correct pronunciation of written words.  Decoding allows children to recognize words quickly as well as figure out unfamiliar words.  Some children figure out these relationships on their own, and others need phonics instruction.  Phonics is just one approach that teaches letter-sound relationships, how to sound out words, and exceptions to principles. (Not all children who decode can comprehend, however.)

Good Word Decoding/Phonics means that the child can:

  • match sounds and letters
  • “decode” or simply read
  • read and spell phonetically
  • recognize phonics patterns and familiar words
  • look at the letters in the whole word when reading
  • utilize vowel sounds taught in his/her writing
  • recognize letter patterns when reading words
  • play with magnet letters ~ can put them in abc order
  • write phonetically

If he/she can’t, then:

  • Teach letters and letter sounds.
  • Make connections to what letters/words your child is learning in school to letters/words in real life on TV, street signs, menus, etc.
  • Sort pictures and objects by sound, having your child say the letter sound repeatedly.
  • Teach phonics systematically and explicitly ~ see Teach Your Child to Read.
  • Apply the systematic phonics instruction in reading to writing.
  • Use manipulatives to help with letter sound relationships, such as magnetic letters, magnetic word chunks, flashcards.
  • Teach “irregular” words and sight words (see all of my other Parent pages on this site).
  • Use computer software at home to support your child in reading and writing.  We use Lexia at Northeast Elementary.

What is Vocabulary?

Vocabulary refers to the words we must understand to communicate effectively.  There are 4 types of vocabulary:  listening, speaking, reading, and writing.  Vocabulary plays a fundamental role in the reading process, and contributes greatly to a reader’s comprehension.  Students learn the meanings to most words indirectly.

Good Vocabulary means that the child:

  • knows word meanings in grade appropriate texts
  • has a strong speaking and writing vocabulary
  • makes connections among words
  • uses the right words to describe
  • can pick appropriate leveled books to read
  • tells stories using first, then, finally or first, then, next, after that, finally
  • uses nonfiction text features to learn new vocabulary on own.  See Nonfiction Text Structures.

If he/she can’t, then:

  • Play oral and written word exercises and games.
  • Teach important, useful, and difficult vocabulary before your child reads.
  • Provide opportunities to encounter target vocabulary beyond the context in which your child is taught.
  • Use taught vocabulary words often and in various ways.
  • Teach vocabulary via explicit instruction and through independent reading.
  • Teach context clues ~ how to figure out what the new word means by rereading the surrounding sentences.
  • Read aloud to your child each day, pausing to discuss new words.
  • Include new and interesting words in daily conversations with your child.
  • Explicitly teach the meanings of common prefixes, suffixes, and roots.
  • Classify and group objects or pictures while naming them.
  • Play verbal games, tell jokes and stories.
  • Have your child read as much as he/she can; the more one reads, the more one learns! 

What is Fluency?

Fluency is the ability to read with speed, accuracy, and with proper expression in order to comprehend.  Those who can’t read fluently will eventually lack the motivation to read.  Fluency is critical because the reading demands escalate with each grade; students must keep up!

Good Fluency means that the child can:

  • read words correct per minute at or above targeted benchmark.  See table below for fluency benchmarks.
  • read aloud without frustration or difficulty
  • read aloud with expression
  • chunk words into meaningful units
  • pause at meaningful breaks within sentences or paragraphs
  • track print

If he/she can’t, then:

  • Assess to be sure that decoding or word recognition is not the issue.
  • Give your child independent level texts to practice again and again.  Time him/her and calculate words correct per minute regularly. 
  • Have your child match his voice to a tape recorded reading.
  • Read a short passage and have your child immediately read it back.  Start with books with predictable vocabulary and clear rhythmic patterns. 
  • Have your child practice reading a passage with a certain emotion to emphasize expression and intonation.
  • Incorporate timed repeated readings.
  • Explicitly teach your child how to pay attention to clues in the text, such as punctuation marks, that provide information about how the text should be read.

Words Per Minute By Month/Grade/Level

To calculate WPM:

___words in the book divided by ___SECONDS it took to read X 60 = __WPM

For example, say there were 207 words in a book.  The child read it in 3 min. 25 seconds, which is 205 seconds.  207 divided by 205 is 1.0 words per second x 60 = 60 WPM!

April/May Grade 1 Level I 40 wpm
June Grade 1 Level J 45 wpm
November Grade 2 Level K 55 wpm
March Grade 2 Level L 65 wpm
June Grade 2 Level M 70 wpm
November Grade 3 Level N 75 wpm
March Grade 3 Level O 80 wpm
June Grade 3 Level P 80 wpm
November Grade 4 Level Q 90 wpm
March Grade 4 Level R 105 wpm Fic./100 wpm nonfiction
June Grade 4 Level S 105 wpm Fic./100 wpm nonfiction
November Grade 5 Level T 105 wpm Fic./100 wpm nonfiction
March Grade 5 Level U 115 wpm Fic./110 wpm nonfiction
June Grade 5 Level V 115 wpm Fic./110 wpm nonfiction

 

What is Comprehension?

Comprehension is the understanding and interpretation of what is read.  It combines reading with thinking and reasoning.  To accurately understand one must:  decode, have reading fluency, make connections, think deeply, have sufficient vocabulary, draw conclusions, infer, determine importance and cause/effect relationships, analyze characters, and more! 

Good Comprehension means that the child can:

  • concentrate on the main idea of the passage, not just details
  • can tell the outcome of the story as well as why things turned out that way
  • go behind what is presented in the book to think about why the characters did what they did and what may happen next
  • bring up relevant information when making connections
  • use and understand a broad vocabulary
  • tell clear, logical sequence of events in the story
  • pick out key facts in an informational text
  • visualize what is going on in a written passage
  • use outlines, maps, notes as he/she reads

If he/she can’t, then:

  • Ask your child open ended questions before, during, and after the reading.  See  Open Ended Questions
  • Teach the structure of narratives (problem, highpoint, resolution) and informational texts (describe, compare/contrast, sequence of events, problem/solution, and cause/effect ~ see my nonfiction page:  Nonfiction Text Structures.
  • Discuss the meaning of words; target a few words for deeper understanding.
  • Teach note taking skills and summarizing strategies.  (A quick way to summarize fiction is to fill in this frame:  Somebody____ wanted_____ but_____ so _____.)
  • Use graphic organizers.
  • Use and revisit target vocabulary words.  Make flashcards of key terms to remember.
  • Teach your child to monitor understanding by summarizing orally after each paragraph, at the very least have your child keep answering who/what after each page.  Have him/her go back and reread if he/she can’t recall.
  • Teach your child how to make predictions through modeling.
  • Do a picture walk before reading.  If there are no pictures, skim and scan to get a brief idea of the subject/topic.  What does your child already know about this subject/topic?  Making connections and activating prior knowledge helps with comprehension.
  • Form mental pictures as you read ~ visualize! 
  • Discuss with your child what he/she has read.

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