When your child starts reading, she’ll likely get stuck on words. It’s tempting to just tell her the word so she can keep reading. But that doesn’t help her decode the word on her own. She won’t build the skills she needs to be a strong independent reader. Instead of just telling her the word, try one of these strategies to help her figure it out on her own.
Stretch It Out
Have your child stretch out the word by make the sound of each letter. When she says the sounds individually, she might be able to put them back together to figure out the word. Model how to stretch out the sounds of the word. Then show her how to smash the sounds back together to form the word.
Look for Known Words
Another strategy is to have your child look for parts of the word that she knows. If she can find a few parts that are familiar, she might be able to figure out the whole word. In the word “carpet”, she might pick out the word “car” and the word “pet”. When she puts them together, she can figure out that the word is carpet. If she doesn’t see any part that looks familiar, point out a smaller chunk of the word that she might know.
The context of the word can help her figure out what it is. Ask her to think about what the story is saying and what would make sense in the line. If she reads a word incorrectly, ask her if that makes sense in the line. When she pays attention to the first sound and thinks about what would make sense, she has an easier time figuring out the word.
Rereading can help use the context for decoding words. Have her go back and read the sentence in mind so she can focus more on the meaning. Or have her skip the difficult word and keep reading. By finishing the sentence, she might be able to figure out what would make sense.
Does the book have pictures? If the images could help her figure out the difficult word, point them out to her. Say, “Take a look at the picture. Does it give you any clues on what the word could be?” This strategy goes along with using context. Thinking about the rest of the story plus looking at the pictures can be enough for some kids to figure out the word.