At LCIS when your child first learns to read, we spend a significant amount of time helping them find ways to read unfamiliar words. For example, we teach phonics so that they can sound out or blend sounds to read regular words. We also practice reading and memorising irregular words that cannot be sounded out. We appreciate all the time that you spend on further practice of these at home with your child.
We encourage them to use a variety of strategies, including:
1. Phonics to read all or part of a word.
2. Breaking long words into a few letters or chunks at a time to sound out.
3. Recognising a word within a word e.g. and in sand or being able to work out part of the word combined with a sensible guess.
4. Using the first sound plus the picture or clues in the story so far (context) to work out with a sensible guess what an unfamiliar word says.
After this children become much more confident in working out what unfamiliar words say, and will be able to read many books of increasing difficulty without needing much help. They may start to read in their heads.
Our role, then, as teachers, parents, carers is to help them explore the meaning of a text more deeply. This means that your child’s book may not contain many words that they cannot read, instead our questions about the meaning need to challenge them further.
Here are some challenges and questions that we might ask the children. We would only pick one focus for one book. We encourage children to:
Retell the main points of the story.
. Begin to understand the terms character and setting and answer questions about them.
· Show their likes and dislikes.
· Compare events, characters and other details with things that have happened in their own lives.
· Know that story books and information books are different, begin to explain why and to use the contents or index of an information book to find something out with help and answer some questions by remembering key facts from an information book or details of a story.
· Answer some questions about the part they have just read.
· Tell you what they notice about the layout of a book or details about the text.
· Tell you about interesting words in their book.
· Identify familiar story themes, characters, endings.
· To recognise some punctuation.
· To read with expression, general tone of voice, and also with emotion to reflect a character sounding sad, happy or angry when talking.
Check that your child understands the meaning of unfamiliar or topic words. Also, if you speak another language at home, you may find your discussions are more in depth if you talk about the book in your home language together.