How can I help my child when he gets stuck on a word?

Dear Teacher,

How can I help my child when he gets stuck on a word?  I usually just tell him the word, but I’m wondering if there are some other things that might work better than just giving him the answer.

Dear Parent,

There are several reading strategies you can teach your child that will help him to become a more independent reader.  In fact, you are already using one.  Simply, tell him the word.  Learning how to read is a challenge, but it should be a fun challenge! When it becomes a struggle and a child spends more time trying to figure out words than understanding the story a student will lose motivation. I’m assuming your child is reading at his “independent” or “instructional” level.  If it is the latter, the assistance of a teacher or a parent will definitely be required.  If your child can read a book with 98% accuracy or more he is reading at an independent level.  If your child can read a book with at least 95% accuracy that  is his instructional level.  Teach your child the following strategies and he will be off to a great start in becoming an independent reader. (1) Look at the picture.  This will provide a greater context for him. (2) Say the first sound in the word and then read the rest of the sentence. For example, “I see the rabbit hop.”  A beginner reader might not be able to sound out the word rabbit.  However, if he says the first sound and reads the rest of the sentence there is a high probability of figuring out the word on his own.  The probability increases even more if there is a picture.  (3) Skip the word and read the rest of the sentence.  See if he can find a word that “fits” and “makes sense.”  A student does not have to be able to read every word in order to get the gist of a story.  For example, if you were to read the sentence, “My friend blew out the candles on her geburtstag cake, and then her cousin, Aczqocntzph gave her a present from all of us.”  Skipping the word geburtstag and reading the rest of the sentence would provide the context for a student to guess that word probably means birthday.  Even though it’s not possible to sound out the word Aczqocntzph, by simply skipping it, and reading the rest of the sentence a beginner reader could figure out it is the name of a person.  Another “clue” is that it starts with a capital letter. (4) Reread the sentence. After a student has sounded out or figured out a word it’s important to reread the entire sentence. Fluency effects comprehension.  Rereading will help a child focus on meaning and increase his understanding and accuracy.  (5) Ask someone!  Yes, this is an appropriate strategy, as long as it’s not used as the first line of defense! We all need a little help now and then. Reading is hard work for children and providing support can make all the difference.  Click the link below for some additional strategies to help your child become an independent reader.

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