Are you experiencing trouble trying to get your child to be a successful reader? Does the child’s teacher continually tell you not to worry that the child will learn at their own pace? Do you know that your child could read better if they had the correct support? Reading is a skill that is easily learnt if the child is supported from where they are at to where they need to go.
Children love books and love being taken away into the imaginary world that these readings encourage. In order to capture and maintain this interest in reading it is important that as teachers and parents we gradually take the child from this love of books into the formal learning of reading. Early reading success is vital to academic progress and the maintenance of self esteem.
In the Learning Support Office where I work there is a little boy in Year One who was experiencing great difficulties with reading. When he first came to the Learning Support lessons, he continuously talked about not being able to read and his face showed disinterest and lack of self esteem. Within a matter of a week this child had developed confidence as a reader and was able to read books with support. Now he is preparing to move back into the classroom to enter the class reading lesson.
How was the transition accomplished?
We knew that Nathan loved books and could comprehend what the accompanying pictures were saying. He also knew about the order of words and he also had great world knowledge. All of these skills are vital for learning to read. What Nathan didn’t know was sounds and words but we knew that we could help him in this area by taking the skills that he already knew to support him in learning what he did not know.
Each day Nathan came to the Learning Support Office to read. Firstly, he went to a computer and accessed a sounding program that he listened to independently. This program extended his knowledge of picture interpretation and linked colourful and humorous pictures to auditory associations of the initial alphabetic sounds. Following this activity Nathan worked with an adult to learn some high frequency words. These words were presented with pictures as scaffolding. The meanings of the pictures were discussed. The words all had their first letter coloured in a different colour as an added support to improve an automatic response.
The second step with the words was to present the word without the picture and only with the first letter coloured. Finally the word was presented without any scaffolding. Each day Nathan would “read” a little book with his adult support. Firstly, the teacher would give the title of the book and ask Nathan to tell what the book would be about. Then together the adult and Nathan would talk about the pictures in the book. Following these interactions Nathan would tell the adult what he thought the story would be about. The adult would help Nathan read by echoing the first sound of each word and continuing on reading. At the end of the session Nathan would retell the story.
One Day at a Time…
Nathan read a number of familiar books either at home or school each day. We built Nathan’s confidence and showed him a way that he could learn to read easily without undue stress. As time moved on we helped Nathan to know many high frequency words and sounds automatically. Then we began the introduction of blending. We
presented a page of words that were of the same blending standard and we would stretch the same words with Nathan each day until he became competent at completing the blending himself, then we would proceed to the next level of blending. After we completed this level of blending we moved to decoding simple two syllable words.
Now, Nathan is a reader and it only took a little effort by a few people to make his reading enjoyable and his future brighter. Explicit teaching, consistency and rehearsal improved Nathan’s ability to access the curriculum. All students can learn succcessfully given similar support.