Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Your Child and Their Reading

Your Child and Their Reading

‘I define reading as a message-getting, problem-solving activity which increases in power and flexibility the more it is practised. It is not unlike the process of finding footholds when climbing up a cliff-face, yet the achievement is in the single completed task.’
Marie Clay – Becoming Literate

Marie Clay, an educator from New Zealand known for her work in global educational literacy, talks about reading as a process. She used evidenced from her intensive research and observation of good classroom practice on reading and has identified that when reading for meaning we find and use information from a range of sources and pull them together to read accurately.

Beginning reading does not happen in an orderly way. It is not the same for all children. Each learner starts with what he or she already knows and uses that to support what has to be learnt next. In order for children to be successful readers they need to know how print language works, Marie Clay has called this Concepts About Print. As discussed at our Your Child and their Reading Information Session,we are sure you already refer to print concepts while reading to your child without even realising it! Talking about how a book works and having a discussion about the text engages your child in a conversation with you, which will help deepen their understanding of reading. It is important for parents to have a good understanding about print concepts in order to help develop their child’s understanding of them.

Below is a list of print concepts that we explore with your children during Modelled and Guided reading sessions and some ways you can explore these with your child as you share the joy of reading together.

1. Book orientation 
The cover of a book usually provides lots of information that will assist with reading. Here we find the title, the author and the illustrator names. Often there is also an image that gives a clue or clues as to what the story may be about. These are all important things that help us activate our prior knowledge and make connections to the text – things to discuss when reading with or to your child. Children need to watch you locate the front of the book as well as showing it to you themselves. This assists with the concept of first and last and start and end.

Ways you and your child can do this... 
  • Pick up a book in different ways and model turning the book the right way ready to read. Later try handing your child the book in different ways and see if they can turn the book into the right position ready to read 
  • Have a discussion about how you know this is the front cover - point to the title of the book, the author’s name and illustrator’s name, the image and what it might tell us 
  • Tell or ask your child what an author and illustrator do. Locate their names on the front cover 
  • Find the back of the book and discuss how you know this is the back – read the blurb and discuss how we don’t start reading books this way so it must be the back.
Remember as your child grows in confidence you can ask them to show you these things and get them to tell you what they know about the information on the front cover!

2. Knowing that print carries the message
Children need to understand that print carries a message and the picture supports the print, there is a difference between a picture and words. They need to know that print and images work together to make meaning.

Ways you and your child can do this... 
  • Go for a picture walk of the text – point to the pictures/illustrations and discuss and describe what you can see and what is happening in the pictures/illustrations
  • Point out to your child parts of the picture that are also written about in the print 
  • Point to the words on the page and talk about why they are there and discuss that we read the words on the page 
  • Point out or ask them where you or they would start reading from - pointing to any text on the page shows that they understand this concept. 

3. The direction of reading 
Children who are able to point out print in a text and who are exposed to books and reading have an understanding that the print needs to be read. In order to start reading, the next concept they need to understand is where we start to read the print and the direction of the print we read.

Ways you and your child can do this... 
  • Point out to your child which page you are going to read first (left then right). Later try asking your child to point to the page that you will read first
  • If there is more than one block of print on the page talk about this with your child and tell them what words you are going to read first (top then bottom). Later on ask your child to point out what words to read first
  • Use your finger to point out to your child where you will start reading and show your child the direction that the print goes on the first line and the direction that you will be reading (left to right)
  • Point out to your child what happens when you finish reading the first line by returning your finger to the start of next line – this is called a return sweep 
  • Show your child that you have read both pages (left then right) before turning the right page. Then turn the page and discuss starting with the left page again.

4. Differences between sentences, letters and a word 
Reading is a complicated activity...there are sentences, words, letters, punctuation marks and sounds involved! It is our job to help our children understand how these all work together. We need to show them and help them understand that texts are made up of sentences, sentences are made up of words and words are made up of letters and letter sounds/clusters that are put together. We need to talk about these concepts with early and beginning readers so they understand and can make meaning of how this form of communication works.

Ways you and your child can do this... 
  • Look at the pictures on the page and discuss what sentences might match the picture on the page  
  • Point out a sentence on the page and read it. Discuss how many words are in the sentence or how many words are on the page 
  • Ask your child if they can point to the first or last word on the page or in the sentence 
  • Show you child letters you know on the page then ask your child if there are any letters on the page they know (we encourage linking letters back to their name). Ask your child to point them out and name the letter. Ask if they know the sound the letter makes. 
  • Ask you child to locate a specific word (sight word) or a letter 
  • Ask your child to point out a word starting with a particular letter 
  • Ask your child if they can find matching letters or upper and lower case matching letters.

Tip – children can use their index fingers as ‘windows’ to show you words or letters on the page, as modeled at our session.

5. One to One Correspondence 
When we read we know that the words on the page work together to convey a message. Beginning readers are encouraged to point to each word as they read, or as you read to them, to learn that each word on the page represents each word that is read. Once children show this concept and are reading texts with increasing print they are encouraged to then run their finger under the text as they read and then eventually read the words without finger pointing to ensure their reading sounds smooth and fluent, or so that their reading ‘sounds like talking’.

Ways you and your child can do this... 
  • Point with your/their index finger under each word that is read 
  • Use a pointer like a chopstick or paddle pop stick to run under each word that is read (start pointing to each word one by one then build up to continuously running the pointer under the words) 

6. Simple Punctuation
Punctuation is an important and integral part of all literacy, especially reading. It gives us, the reader, clues as to how we need to read parts of the texts fluently, when to pause, stop or add expression...and many of you shared last week at our Your Child and their Reading Information Session, you are finding your child already discussing punctuation with you! 

Ways you and your child can do this... 
  • Point to a full stop and ask or tell you child why we use full stops (to indicate the end of a sentence)
  • Point to a comma and ask or tell you child why we use commas (to pause while reading – take a short breath and keep on going)
  • Locate a question mark and ask or tell you child why we these (to indicate a question has been asked) 
  • Locate an exclamation mark and ask or tell you child why we these (to add emphasis – say it with feeling!) 
  • Locate quotation marks and ask or tell you child what they tell us (to indicate when someone is talking. Speech bubbles indicate the same) 
  • Point to or locate an ellipsis and ask your child why authors use these (to create excitement or suspense – wait...get ready...and use your best voice) 

We hope this blog supports what we discussed and worked through together at ourYour Child and their Reading Information Session and gives you some ideas on print concepts you can work on with your child.

We look forward to hearing any thoughts or comments that you have.

The Kindy Teachers

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