Your goal every day is to teach your child to become an independent and confident reader. You start this from day one when you ask them to point to the dog or cat in the book as they sit on your lap and listen to stories. You continue this as you celebrate the first time they put three sounds together to decode a word: c-a- t: cat. Yay! You develop these skills as you teach them self-monitoring strategies.
What Are Self-Monitoring Strategies?
Simply put, self-monitoring strategies are what independent readers do to help themselves make sense of new words and make meaning of the text they are reading. One indication that your child is depending on you too much as they read is if he looks to you immediately when encountering a new. I used to joke with my first graders that they word was not on my face! What I meant was I wanted them to look at the page for clues to help them decode new words. The more confident your child becomes the less they will automatically look to you for the answers. Typically I find that parents are on one end of the spectrum in this area: they either help too soon and do not allow time for the child to figure out the new word, or they allow the child to struggle too long and become discourages. We want to balance these extremes and support when necessary but continue to teach self-monitoring skills so your child will look to you less and less as he read.
What Do Independent Readers Do?
Independent readers have learned that its their job to make sense of what they reading. They take ownership of their comprehension of a story and they take risks when it comes to decoding and trying new words. Remember, beginning readers are taking risks every day and we need to celebrate every time they try and point out the ways they are growing as readers. The more confident they become in their own ability to read new words and make meaning from what they read, the more risks they will take and the more confident they become - it's a wonderful cycle!
- Reread when they know they have not understood the text or to clarify what they've read
- Slow down to read new words or information that is unfamiliar
- Make mental images of visualize they story as they read
- Use background knowledge to connect to new material
- Ask questions as they read
- Connect new information to things they already know or have experienced
- Use context clues to make sense of new words
What You Can Do...
- Reread sentences and paragraphs when reading together to show them that this is what good readers do to understand
- set a purpose for each book or story - explain when the story is for fun or for learning new information and then explain that good readers slow down when they need to learn something new
- talk about what you read as you read and the mental pictures - "what do you think the boy looks like?" "how do you picture his grandma's house?"
- Ask questions as you read - not quiz-like but thoughtful: "what do you think the boy is feeling now?" "do you think the boy will regret his decision?" "have you ever felt like the character in this story?"
- when presenting new information take time to talk about something that your child already knows that relates. If your child knows about spiders and you are going to read about insect, first talk about how many legs a spider has and the name of the body parts. As your child reads, he can start to make comparisons and contrast information about spiders vs. insects.
- teach your child to use all the words in a sentence to help decode a new words. If they say "puddle" for "pedal" in the sentence: The girl learned how to pedal her bike fast to win the race." ask them in "puddle" makes sense in that sentence and with what else they know is going on in the story.
Download the Strategy Bookmark to help your child remember these strategies when reading.
Teach them these strategies:
1. "Does it make sense?" and "Try that again" This gives them time to think about what they are reading, go back and reread, and use the context clues around the word to try again.
2. "Do the sounds your read match the letters and letter patterns?" or "Does it sound right?" If the word is able to be decoded using phonics, they should be able to try the word again and properly decode it. If they say "steps" for "stops" it is easy enough to ask them what short o says and to try that word again.
3. "Does it look right?" or "Reread the sentence again and see if it you can get it this time." If it's a sight word we cannot tell them to "sound it out" and pictures won't make sense but you can let them know it's a sight word and to try to read it again with that bit of information.
Keep in Mind:
- You will need to teach self-monitoring and model these strategies
- Don't let them rely on you for every new word
- Build confidence and remove fear of failure - encourage an atmosphere of risk-taking when reading
- Use mistakes as an opportunity to teach
- Always be positive!
Teach them these strategies and point out what strategy would be helpful for them as they read. Over time your child will begin to do these things automatically and will look to you less and less. Guide, support, encourage, and celebrate all their attempts and successes!