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Supporting Your Child's Reading at Home
Recommendation 4: Reading for Understanding

Support your child in reading accurately, at a conversational pace, and with expression so they understand what they read.

Accurate and Efficient Word Identification

word identification

As your child learns to read, it won't be long before he or she is reading sentences, paragraphs, and books! As your child practices reading out loud, it is important to help him or her read words accurately and quickly. When children read words accurately, it helps them understand what they are reading, and as children practice reading, they read words more efficiently by increasing accuracy and rate. When children can read words correctly and fairly quickly, they can focus their attention on understanding what they are reading instead of trying to identify each word.

There are two important things families can do to help their child read words correctly and quickly.

  1. Read out loud to your child every day! Reading to your child can be a special time to spend together. It will show him or her that reading is important and fun! Reading aloud will help your child understand what reading should sound like and provides a model of how to read words accurately and with expression. Reading with the right expression means that you are talking like the characters in the book—your voice sounds excited when the character is excited or sad when the character is sad.
  2. Encourage and help your child as he or she reads out loud. You might need to help your child when he or she comes to a word that is difficult to read. You might provide a reminder by saying, "Let's say each sound in this word and then put the sounds together to read it." Any reminder that encourages your child to use what he or she already knows to figure out the word can be helpful. Sometimes, showing your child how to say each sound and then reading the word may be helpful. As you help your child, remember to be patient because reading is a new skill that takes a lot of practice. Be sure to let your child know that you are proud of his or her progress! Providing support and encouragement will help your child improve in reading and become an independent reader.

When choosing books for your child to read out loud, select books that are of interest to your child, are not too easy or too hard, and are linked to his or her experiences or concerns. For example, if your child is interested in cars or is afraid of the dark, it can be helpful to select books on those topics.

Recognizing Misread Words and Correcting Errors

correcting errors

Experienced readers know when what they are reading does not make sense because they have misread a word. Once they realize that they have misread a word, experienced readers can correct their mistake. Beginning readers don't always notice when they misread a word because they don't always pay attention to what they are reading. So, it is important to show children how to recognize misread words when they read. A reader should think about what he or she is reading and decide whether it makes sense or not, that is, self-monitor. We also need to show children how to self-correct when they misread a word. The ability to self-monitor and self-correct will help children understand what they read and become better readers.

Families can help children monitor what they read and make corrections when they misread words. As you read to your child, you can provide examples of how to recognize when words are misread by "thinking out loud." You can say things like, "That didn't make sense. I'm going to read that sentence again." When your child reads to you and misreads a word, ask her to stop and see if she can correct the error. If not, reread the sentence with the missed word exactly as your child read it and ask, "Did that make sense?" If your child does not self-correct, read the word and have her reread it. Then have her read the sentence correctly.

Oral Reading Practice

oral reading practice

Oral reading practice is when children read out loud. As children read out loud, it is important to have a more proficient reader listen and offer help when needed. As children read out loud, they get better at reading words correctly, quickly, and with the right expression (fluently). Reading words quickly means reading them at the same pace at which we talk. When you read with the right expression, you understand what commas, periods, and question marks mean. Reading with expression shows that you understand what you read when, for example, your voice expresses excitement when a character is excited. When children read fluently, they can focus their attention on understanding what they read rather than trying to figure out how to read the words. The more children practice reading out loud with support, the better reader they will become!

There are many ways to support your child in oral reading practice. You can echo read and read together.

  1. Echo reading means that you read part of a book out loud and then your child reads the same part out loud. Thus, your child echoes what you read. As you echo read with your child, make sure that he or she follows along while you read by looking at the words as you read them. Your child should point to the words as he or she reads the same thing you read. This is to make sure your child is paying attention to the words and not just repeating what you say.
  2. Reading together means you and your child read the same thing out loud at the same time. When you read at the same time, make sure that your child follows along by having him or her point to each word. You can slow your pace of reading a little when you practice reading at the same time. Always offer positive encouragement, and let your child know how proud you are that he or she is practicing reading.

The Practice Reading Out Loud Bookmark reminds us of the importance of reading every day with children. More proficient readers should read out loud to be a model for what good reading sounds like. Children should practice reading out loud as they receive help from a more proficient reader. The encouragement and support children receive as they read out loud will help them become more fluent and confident readers. Be patient as children learn to read and remind them often of how proud you are of them for practicing reading.