Becoming a Skilled Reader

What does your child do when they’re reading and they come across a word they don’t know?  Do they look at the picture or the first letter and guess what the word might be?  Then keep reading to find out the most important tool they must have in their reading toolbox to become a skilled reader…it’s not guessing.

Children are not wired to learn to read the multitude of different spellings for the sounds in the English language.  They need EFFECTIVE literacy instruction in their early schooling years to become skilled readers.

Without the literacy instruction that research has proven to work children can struggle to learn to read.  Combine this with the “let’s give them some more time” recommendation that is suggested all too often and it’s a recipe for disaster.  It creates a child who not only struggles to read but also lacks self confidence and motivation and is at risk for lifelong social and economic difficulties.

When children are taught to read the right way they are set up for success!  They go on to become skilled and fluent readers bursting with confidence in their abilities and they have far greater learning, employment and earning opportunities.

We are fed up with children being taught to read in a way that creates struggling readers.  Teaching children to use pictures, other words in the sentence or the first letter to guess an unknown word will NOT make them a skilled reader.

What happens when they’re expected to read more challenging books? The ones with no pictures and with more complex words and sentences.  Suddenly they have no tools left and their building has a shaky foundation.

So, here’s the one tool your child must have to become a skilled reader who is able to tackle unknown words with ease.

They must be able to decode words.

This means they use the letters in the word to work out what it says.  To do this they will:

  1. Pay close attention to the sequence of letters in a word

AND

  1. Know the letters and letter combinations and their corresponding sounds

AND

  1. Apply the ‘rules’ such as what ‘e’ at the end of the word does to the other sounds

Sounds fairly simple right?  But did you know there are about 250 different ways to spell all the sounds in English?  Not so simple after all.  Children must be explicitly taught them…all.  They learn this complex alphabetic code we use to read through an approach called systematic phonics.  It’s a structured way of explicitly teaching children the letters and sounds that words are made of and how to blend them together to read the words.

So, if your child is struggling to learn to read you need to get help from a qualified professional who lives and breaths systematic phonics on a daily basis.  The Speech Pathologists at Talk Play Grow certainly do.  Call us on 9653 9955 or email info@talkplaygrow.com.au to find out more about how we can help your child become a skilled and fluent reader.

 

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Book Central: Cat and Dog Go Bananas

No doubt you’ve heard the message “read books with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what books to read and how to read them.  Did you know it’s actually these two things – the what and how - that makes the difference to your child’s development?

We know from research that children who are not read to have poorer understanding of language, their vocabularies are smaller and their thinking skills are less advanced.  And this means they go on to have trouble learning to read themselves.  So, reading the right books in the right way to your child is critical to their development.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how or book reading with one fantastic book and our top three tips to make sure the way you’re reading is helping your child communicate, connect and succeed!

One of our favourites is Cat and Dog Go Bananas by Jonathan Bentley

What’s it about?

This is an exciting rhyming book about Cat and Dog who have found out there are a number of wild animals trapped in their apartment block. Cat and Dog decide they need to set them free! Whatever could go wrong?

Our top 3 tips

1. Find a quiet time to read together.

When you and your child sit down together to read through the book find a quiet space without distractions. This encourages the maximum potential for your child to listen and take part in the storytelling.

2. Look at the pictures before reading

Take some time before reading the book to flick through the pages and look at the pictures together discussing what you can see in them and what might be happening in the story. This can be fun as you chat together about what you can see and what might happen next.

3. Encourage your child to join in the reading of the book.

This can be done easily by using a simple strategy that does not involve reading. Sentence completion along with pointing to the picture will encourage your child’s confidence with book sharing. e.g. then they saw the…….

 

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Book Central - Where is the Green Sheep?

No doubt you’ve heard the message “read books with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what books to read and how to read them.  Did you know it’s actually these two things – the what and how - that makes the difference to your child’s development?

We know from research that children who are not read to have poorer understanding of language, their vocabularies are smaller and their thinking skills are less advanced.  And this means they go on to have trouble learning to read themselves.  So, reading the right books in the right way to your child is critical to their development.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how or book reading with one fantastic book and our top three tips to make sure the way you’re reading is helping your child communicate, connect and succeed!

Where Is The Green Sheep? by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek

What’s it about?

This is a fun and colourful book that will have your child hooked from the start! It follows a wildly wonderful adventure in search for the green sheep. Before you find the green sheep, you and your child will be introduced to many other sheep along the way who are doing wild and wonderful things. Each page will leave you wondering when the green sheep will be found.

Our top 3 tips

1. Talk with your child about what is happening on each page.

As this book has limited print, it encourages the reader to be creative and generate their own descriptions and discussions for each page. Ask your child to describe the sheep on each page and why they have been given their name (e.g. “the bed sheep”, “the band sheep”). Your child will learn specific vocabulary related to the text and encourage their use of descriptive language.

2. Point out the different concepts and descriptors on each page (e.g. little, big, high, low, tall, short, etc.).

You can link them to real life examples to help solidify their learning (e.g. “Look this sheep is tall like a giraffe”).

3 Use the text as conversation starters (e.g. “so sheep really go swimming?”).

This will help your child extend their language by using reasoning and higher-level thinking skills.

 

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Book Central - The Very Brave Bear

Reading the Right Books the Right Way

No doubt you’ve heard the message “read books with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what books to read and how to read them.  Did you know it’s actually these two things – the what and how - that make the difference to your child’s development?

We know from research that children who are not read have a poorer understanding of language, their vocabularies are smaller and their thinking skills are less advanced.  And this means they go on to have trouble learning to read themselves.  So, reading the right books in the right way to your child is critical to their development.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how or book reading with one fantastic book and our top three tips to make sure the way you’re reading is helping your child communicate, connect and succeed!

The Very Brave Bear By Nick Bland

What’s it about?

This book is a part of a series of books that follow The Very Cranky Bear and his adventures. In this book, the bear is back and this time he is facing Boris Buffalo in a battle of bravery. But something surprises them both resulting in them fleeing through the forest in fear. This book is full of vibrant illustrations and a fun, engaging story which children will love to read aloud.

Our top 3 tips

1. Focus on rhyming words

As you’re reading with your child, point out the rhyming words, talk about how/why they rhyme and ask them to try to think of another word that rhymes. This will help strengthen their phonological awareness skills which they must have to learn to read successfully.

2. Spark a conversation

Have a discussion with your child about each thing that the bear and buffalo do on each page. Ask some questions but not too many. Questions like 'Is that scary?', 'what would you do if that happened?', 'how would you feel about that?', 'Is the bear brave or is the buffalo brave?' and 'What does it mean to be brave?' are great for sparking conversation and expanding your child’s emotional vocabulary.

3. Ask your child to retell the story

After you have finished reading the book together, ask your child to tell back the main things that happened in the story. Help them to remember the correct sequence of the activities that the buffalo and bear completed to show how brave they are. Encourage them to use words like first, then and last. This will help them to understand the structure of stories and make up their own.

 

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