Beginning readers often have decoding issues that hinder them from full reading comprehension. Phonics can help them to decode words and make them better readers. But to go from decoding to more advanced reading comprehension, it is necessary for students to use several reading strategies.
One of the best ways to increase the reading skills of beginning readers is to introduce them to as many sight words as possible. These high-frequency words help students to learn to read because once they learn them, they will be able to read texts and books that utilize the sight words. There are many step readers available that mainly use sight words that are good for young readers. These books often give students the confidence they need to progress to higher levels of reading.
Teaching beginning readers the basics of phonics can be an effective way to help them become better readers. Knowing how certain letters blend and how to recognize letter sounds is often how most students learn to read. This is also an effective tool for teaching students whose first language isn’t English.
Common reading strategies that help readers with their comprehension are pre-reading, questioning, clarifying, visualizing and re-reading. While beginning readers might have difficulty with clarifying, it’s never too early to introduce these reading strategies to readers. Parents and teachers can help teach students how to visualize before students actually start reading on their own. By reading to students and asking them if they can see what’s happening in their minds, teachers can help students to visualize. Modeling each of the reading strategies for students is the best way to teach the strategies to beginning readers.
It is important that students spend enough time actually practicing what they’re learning on a regular basis. Once or twice a week isn’t enough time for retention. Students should spend a portion of each day working on reading skills such as phonics, reading strategies and memorizing sight words. Practice does make perfect.
Stacy Alleyne is a certified English teacher with a BA in English and graduate work in English, education, journalism and law. She has written numerous articles and her own dining column for the "Gazette."