Final post from squeetus guest blogger and teacher, Kirsten Wilcox. This post Kirsten addresses common mistakes parents make while helping their kids learning to read.
Covering up the pictures: Even if your child is on a beginning level and you feel they are just “memorizing the words” they are still reading. DO NOT COVER UP THE PICTURES! If they have “memorized” the words they are still benefitting from reading the book, especially if you have them point to the words as they are reading it. Each time they look at the word and read it correctly it is working its way into their memory.
Getting books that are above their child's reading level: Don’t get anxious and buy harder books because you want them to grow. This will slow their learning down rather than speed it up and will cause confidence issues.
Continuing to read with a child when they are frustrated and angry: When a child is angry they are unable to concentrate, focus or think. This will only lead to more anger from both child and parent, and confirm their belief that they don’t like reading. Try saying, “I can see that your angry right now, and need a little time to cool down. Go get a drink and let me know when you’re feeling better about things”. Sometimes they’ll insist they are ready even when you know they aren’t. I usually say, “I love you too much too read with you when you’re upset. We need to take a few minutes to calm down”. They don’t need to go to time out, and it doesn’t need to be a consequence. When working with my foster boy, he would sometimes throw a raging fit about it, but he quickly learned it just made things last longer. I never talked to him about it when he was in the angry state. I learned from their therapist that kids can’t process what you are saying when they are angry. It is better to talk to them about things when they have calmed down and their mind can listen and think things through.
Telling a child to sound it out whenever they come to a word they don't know: Sounding out a word is only one strategy and isn’t the answer to everything. Many words can’t be sounded out. I usually say, “Let’s say the sounds of the first couple of letters and see if the word ‘pops’ in our head”. Or I just completely use the other strategies all together.
Correcting a word immediately after the child makes a mistake: Sometimes when reading the child will read the word wrong. Let them continue reading to the end of the sentence to see if they can figure out that the word didn’t make sense. If they go back and correct it on their own, praise them for it. If they don’t go back, ask them if what they just read made sense.
Getting frustrated when a child can't figure out a word or saying, "You just read that word!!!" :D This can be frustrating for us as adults, but even if a child just read a word, or it is a word you just talked about, they might need to see it and read it 500 more times before it becomes rote. This is all part of the learning process and it’s ok. How many things do we need to hear and do before we get something new down correctly?
Not reading with their child on a daily basis (even when they've made it to chapter books): I know it takes a lot of time, and is extremely difficult. I’ve experienced this first hand, but reading with your child 20-30 minutes each day is so important especially if they’re struggling. If it is too much time for them you can break it up into smaller pieces. Let part of the time be talking about the pictures and the book. Practice sight words with your child (there are many apps that help kids learn sight words you can use for part of the reading time).
The most important thing is to have fun with it and keep it positive. :D
THANK YOU, Kirsten! Your tips are timely for me. What are your thoughts? Any other traps you've caught yourself falling into? What's worked for you and your kids?