In second and third grade, your child will be what teachers call “an emerging reader” — one who knows a bit about phonics can sound out unfamiliar words, and has memorized a short list of sight words (the words that don’t sound out easily such as DOUGHNUT which a reader who hadn’t memorized that word, would probably try and sound it out and pronounce it DOO-UGG-NUT).
Here are some ways that you can help your emerging reader.
- Pick some text that has short sentences with lots of sight words. This will reinforce those words that can’t be sounded out.
- Have your child read to you, and when they come to an unknown word, try these three strategies:
- Have him or her try to sound it out; help by asking these questions: “What is the sound of the first letter?” and “What is the sound of the first letter and the next few letters together…”
- Skip the word, read to the end of the sentence or paragraph, and then go back to the unknown word and ask if it can be guessed from the rest of the sentence.
- Look at the picture and see if the word can be guessed.
- Always read the word and pronounce it and have your child say it several times while pointing to all the letters.
- If your child still can’t figure out the word, only then should you reveal what it is. A child who solves the puzzle of unknown words will become a stronger reader and be proud of this achievement.
It’s okay to admit the book is just too hard for your child right now. Here are some great tips on finding the “just right” reading range for your emerging reader.
Books that are too hard can be frustrating and can make your child sad, angry, or feel like he or she is failing. Reinforce the joy of reading by saying, “This has lots of hard words. Let me read it to you,” or “Let’s read it together.” You can also set the book aside for a while. As emerging readers, children become better readers every month as they work with their teachers.
Books that are easy are great too! Think of easier books as a slow jog instead of running as fast as you can. Both jogging and sprinting are great exercises, but a jog is something you can do longer without collapsing. Encouraging an emerging reader is a marathon, not a sprint, and we want your child to enjoy reading more and more each day. This helps children reinforce the skills they have and get more comfortable with reading, which leads to reading for pleasure instead of feeling like reading is a chore.