The Odessa Record -

Summer reading series

When a reader gets stuck


As we learn from home and research, the most important influence on a child is the parent. Next, we learn that daily support in reading from parents and other adults contributes greatly to the child’s success in reading.

Then comes the inevitable question: What do I do when my child gets stuck reading?

Well, there are several strategies that teachers use with K-3 children that parents can also use at home. In fact, these strategies also work on readers of any age.

The parent can ask the child, “What would make sense here?” After all, reading is about making sense of words in print. And we know that even adults get stuck at times with words in a book.

Another technique is to have the child look at the pictures to see if they give any clues. Often, the pictures do give good clues to the words on the page of a picture book. Early readers most often come with pictures that match the words, making it easier for children to learn to read. They may start off reading pictures, but soon begin to read the words themselves. We saw this work with our three sons. It’s amazing to see.

The parent could also tell the child to skip the word or phrase and come back to it later. This recognizes that sometimes we make sense of a word or phrase after we read the rest of the sentence. Adults don’t read perfectly, either. I sometimes find myself skipping words and coming back to them later when I realize I missed something. Sometimes I figure it out without going back. Children can do the same.

A parent can always ask the child, “What word would make sense and begins with that letter?” Most children can figure it out with this slight nudge.

Of course, the parent can run a finger under the word and have the child look at the word and say it slowly. My mother did this with me when I first learned to read from a Dick and Jane book. It’s also how I learned the word “go.” Small common words are often difficult for children to learn.

Sometimes what works as well is asking the child, “Do you see a part of the word that you know?” That’s how our youngest learned to recognize Danny in Danny and the Dinosaur because he saw “Dan” in the character’s name, which was the same as the first three letters of his name.

Then, too, just telling the word to the child is okay at times. This may work well with an especially difficult word or a word new to the child.

Dr. Duane Pitts is a former English teacher at Odessa High.


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