Tuesday's Teaching Tip

Last week’s teaching tip was in regards to correcting your child’s reading errors.  These suggestions related to correcting errors that do not make sense: errors that could potentially interfere with reading comprehension.

Today, I want to consider what this reading mama does when a child’s reading errors actually do make sense. For example, a child may omit, add, or substitute words; yet the text’s message keeps its integrity.  When a child reading errors make sense, it is apparent that the child is attempting to make meaning of the text.  (How many times, as a mama, have you substituted, omitted, or added words while reading aloud to your child to make the text more understandable for them?)  And because the text makes sense to her, she does not see a need to go back and correct her mistake.

Many mamas and teachers alike sense the need to point out the error right away, stopping the child to take advantage of this “teachable moment”.  But the best thing for us to do is keep track of those miscues, by jotting them down on a piece of paper, and save the “teachable moment”  for when that portion of text is over (end of the paragraph, chapter, or book).

This is what it looks like when I jot them down (written like a fraction):

cookie (word she read)

dessert  (word in text)

Why shouldn’t I interrupt her to correct the error?  Because when we stop the child every time she makes this type of error, we are stopping the flow of her comprehension.  Just think how hard is it for us, as adult readers, to comprehend text while being interrupted by our little, darling blessings!

What’s a mama to do with the words she’s jotted down?  Wait until a good stopping place and go back and revisit some of the words.  If she read COOKIE for dessert, talk about how those words are different.  Sometimes substitutions are very similar in spelling to the word in the text.  Point out to your young reader that she made a smart error: she said a word that made sense and it even looked like the word in the text.

One more thought:

I want to make it clear with this and last week’s tip that your child needs to be reading texts with/to you that are on her instructional level…that means 90% or more of the words are automatic (she can read them within one second of looking at them).  If her percentages fall below 90%, the amount of words she can’t read can become overwhelming and comprehension can suffer greatly.


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