Helping your beginning readers to practice their decoding comprehension skills is an important activity to build their independent reading ability and overall reading confidence. Here are some strategies that you can use at home to help build their reading ability.
First, you should allow them to choose books that they want to read rather than assigning them books to read like they are in school. However, make sure they are choosing books that are at their independent level or slightly higher. To determine this, have them read a random page within the book. If they are able to read 90% of the words or more and also understand the plot line, then this is a good book for them to read.
As your child is reading aloud to you, instead of just saying “sound it out” over and over again when they stumble on a word, here are a few other effective strategies. One alternate is to offer them a bit more time before you intervene. Sometimes beginning readers just need an extra second to process the word. If there are pictures within the story, you can also have them try to use the picture to decode the meaning of the words they are struggling to read. You can also have them skip the word in the sentence that they do not know and then come back to it when they have reached the end of the paragraph or page. Then, have them come back and try to determine the meaning based on the context.
Chunking is also an important skill beginning readers can use and also a term they will hear frequently in school. Chunking is when they break down the word into smaller words that they already know or syllables they are familiar with reading. For example seaside can be broken down into sea and side. If they know the meaning of those words they can then put them together easier to figure out the meaning.
Lastly, if none of the strategies work, you should always help your child by telling them the word. You can give them an explanation of the words meaning, pronounce it slowly, and then have them repeat or try to give them a mnemonic device to help remember the word.
What strategies do you use to help your beginning reader learn to decode?