Want to get your child ahead in reading? Try a technique that teachers use to help your child become (better) readers. This post is part of a three-part series about a technique called “Guided Reading”. When using this technique,make sure to choose books that are at your child’s reading level (I like using the Fountas and Pinnell levels). Your child is likely ready to begin guided reading instruction if he or she (1) can “pretend read” books that you have read aloud, (2) has memorized certain favorite books, or (3) Is starting to recognize relationships between letters and sounds. If you have a non-reading preschooler or kindergartner, you might want to start with Level A books, like these (published by Scholastic):
If your child is school aged and reading, just ask his or her teacher what their “instructional” reading level is (Instructional reading level is teacher language for “the difficulty level of books a child can read with the support of an adult”). Over the course of three posts, I will share with you tips for what to do “before”, “during”, and “after” reading with your child. All three components will likely be done together in one sitting with your child, but I am breaking them into parts so that they are less overwhelming for you.
Today I am going to focus on what to do with your child BEFORE actually reading the book. There are two things teachers look to do before having their students read a text. First, they “activate student’s prior knowledge” (in other words, figure out what they already know about the topic of the book). Then teachers introduce important vocabulary. Both of these are VERY important for preparing children to read.
ACTIVATE PRIOR KNOWLEDGE
1. Ask children what they already know about the topic of the book.
Example: If the book is about things children do on a playground, ask, “Have you been to a
playground? What types of things did you do there?”
2. Predict what may happen in the book from the cover.
Example: “Look at the illustration on the cover. What do you think will happen in this book
based on this picture?”
1. Pick out 5-8 words that children will need to know to read this book. They should be words with “content” like slide, monkey bars, friendship, not words like is, the, and.
2. Take a “picture walk”. A picture walk is when you walk through the pages of the book, pointing out important vocabulary and seeing what happens in the book (so children can spend more time focused on reading the words and making meaning from those words). Talk about the meanings of each of the selected vocabulary words you encounter in the picture walk.
Now your child is ready to “read” (albeit with your help)!!! It is really empowering for children when they realize they can make sense of the words on a page! Here you can see what we suggest you do during reading and after reading.