- Begin by talking about the front cover and then talk through the book / model some of the expression used - point out words that you know will be tricky.
- Show them that the main aim is to enjoy the book. Let the child hold the book and point to the words themselves to make sure it matches with what they are saying.
- If they are unsure of a word, encourage them to work it out by themselves – you can say: What would make sense? Look at the sounds in that word. Re-read the line or read on. Or if they make a mistake say: Can you sort that out?
- Talk about how to use a “story voice,” what to do when they see a full stop or a question mark. Model and practise putting the words together quickly so that their reading is well phrased.
- Look out for the keywords and make sure the child is reading these by sight rather than attempting to sound them out.
- After reading, ask a quick question to ensure the child has understood what they have read.
- Focus on the content of the book – the exciting story or the interesting facts rather than talking about the colour book band.
- Sit alongside your child with them holding the book.
- If they still need to point at text, make sure it's them doing the pointing.
- If they make a mistake, wait until they have finished the sentence or page - they may notice, go back and put it right themselves. If not, try saying "something was not quite right here - try it again", before telling them.
- If they get stuck and ask you what a word says, try saying "what could you do to work it out?" or "what do you think?"
- Sometimes you may just need to tell them to keep the flow of their reading, but given a little thinking time and a prompt to try themselves, they might just surprise you!
- Once your child is reading more confidently, encourage them to stop pointing at the words. We read more quickly with our eyes. They can use their finger if they need to slowly check a word.
- Allow your child to read a favourite book over and over again. They have done the hard work on it and are now freed up to work on reading it smoothly, making it sound good and feel like a reader.
- Remind your child to look out for commas and full stops and pause or stop when they see them.
- Read some parts a book to them to show them how it needs to sound. Say "listen to me read this part - now you try."
What are High Frequency Words?
High frequency words are quite simply those words which occur most frequently in written material, for example, "and", "the", "as" and "it".
They are often words that have little meaning on their own, but they are essential for the sentence to make sense. Some of the high frequency words can be sounded out using basic phonic rules, e.g. "it" is an easy word to read using phonics. However, many of the high frequency words are not phonically regular and are therefore hard to read in the early stages. These words are sometimes called tricky words or sight words.
It is helpful to talk about them to the children as words that "you can't sound out - you just need to learn this word"
Here is a really simple game you can play (which the children love) to help them learn to read these words "in a flash":
- Make word cards with sight words your child is working on.
- Start with around 5 words. Words can be repeated in the pile.
- Include some words your child knows well and some that your child partially knows.
- Show your child the words and place on the table. Slide each word down the table. If they can read the word before it gets to the bottom edge of the table, it goes in their pile. If not, it goes in your pile. Your child should try to get all the cards.