I wish to start this article with three key words which will be used throughout. The words are meaning, structure and visuals.
When children learn to read books there is more to experiencing a story or text than just looking at the words.
Children discover literature through meaning. They find meaning by looking at the pictures, exploring the characters and being asked questions like: What can you see? Where is the story set?
Once a child can see what is happening within a story this then supports their word recognition. Before you look at words in a book always talk about the pictures.
Structure is the second component a child requires when accessing a book. Structure refers the words in the text. For example, the sentence above says “The (article) dogs (nouns) are sitting (verbs)”. Children know that the article comes first, then the noun and finally the verbs. If a child read: “ The dog sits.” Even though they’ve not read the words, word for word perfectly, we know that they understand the ‘flow’ of the sentence, and what they’ve understood and read makes sense to them. As an adult I know that the child understands how sentences work in speech and can follow the structure of the text.
Finally, comes the visual. The visuals are the actual words from the text. “The dogs are sitting.” If a child read: “The dog can sit,” even though they understand the structure of the sentence, they have not recognised that ‘are sitting, starts are an ‘a’ and not a ‘c’. Then we know as adults reading with them that they would need support with their letter recognition.
Here are some strategies to support your early reader at home:
- Read the title to your early reader. E.G This book is called ‘All About Dogs.” The reason why we read the title to our child is so they are able to give meaning to the words and become familiar with the story, book before they begin.
- Let’s look at the front cover and ask “what do you think the book/ story is about?” Making predictions give us as adults and insight into what the children already know and how they are going to experience the text.
- Talk through the pages asking your child what they can see before reading the words.
- Encourage your child to sound out the words using their sound ‘a,b c’ not ‘A,B,C’.
- Show your passion for reading the story. “I am so excited to read this book about…fairies…dogs…cars…”
- Thank your child for their time. This builds rapport and a love of literacy. “Thank you for reading that story, I love hearing you speak about the…dog..fairy…cars, I’m excited for out next reading time together”.
For more tips on supporting your early reading and your child’s development, feel free to follow me on Instagram @cas_teachertips.
About the author: Cas Germain is a British Primary Teacher, teaching Year One in Dubai, UAE. She is a SENCo and has a passion for children’s wellbeing and literacy.