Reading to learn or to understand something is quite different than reading for fun, which falls into a different category altogether. Children read a sports-mystery for pleasure, and can miss out a word or not understand the meaning of a word and still go on and enjoy the story. No one will test them; the whole experience can be fun.
Since reading is an essential life skill that children must master, anything you can do to foster your child’s interest in reading for pleasure will assist and reinforce the learning experience.
Reading Outside the Classroom is Essential
When I taught elementary school, I instructed the parents of the children in my classes to help them read at home by simply identifying any word they didn’t know or recognize. This was considered shocking advice by many of the parents who couldn’t seem to stop themselves from demanding their child “sound out the word” phonetically.
But when a child encounters an unfamiliar word and hesitates, the parents can ask the child to tell them the first letter of the word and the sound it makes, and then simply supply the word. It makes reading a more enjoyable experience for any child, and more enjoyable for the parent, too, and pleasure is the positive experience you are trying to encourage.
Make Reading as Much Fun as You Can
Children learn phonics at school, which helps most of them learn how to read, but some of them will actually be “whole word” readers and learn more quickly and easily by remembering the look of the whole word. Phonics doesn’t help such children very much, and this is a difficult idea for phonics-reader parents to grasp – and difficult for some of the phonics-reader teachers to understand, too, it seems.
For children who fall into the whole-word-reader category, the best way of helping them is to identify the word after they have named and given the sound of the first letter of the word. If your child is a phonics reader, you can comfort yourself that you are reinforcing the initial attack with phonics – “What’s the first letter? What sound does it make?” Good enough. Tell the child the word. Move on. Phonics, shmonics. Make reading less of a struggle.
The point is that you should do whatever you can to make reading a pleasurable experience for you and your child, and not a grueling task of sounding out every other word so that the meaning of the sentence and the meaning of the story is lost in a bewildering fog of phonetic fumbling.
Encouraging your child to read for fun and demonstrating how useful the skill can be in daily life (http://greatstuff.hubpages.com/hub/How-to-encourage-children-to-read-for-pleasure) is an important goal for a parent.
A sports-mystery is fun to read – and I must say, it’s fun to write, too!
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