In our reading sessions, we've been discussing how all readers come across words they don't know. It's the good readers, though, who have tricks or strategies for figuring out those new words. Here are the strategies we will be using this year:
1. Look at the picture. Some people used to think that using pictures was "cheating"; we now know that this is a valuable cueing system, especially for first graders who are so good at "reading pictures."
2. Get you mouth ready. Just by getting their mouths ready for the first sound of a word, readers can often identify a new word.
3. Does it sound right? Use your sounds. This is when a reader makes sure that the word being said matches up with the sounds in the word. S/he uses the sounds to identify a new word. S/he also uses the syntax/structure of a sentence to fit in a word that sounds right.
4. Look for chunks. Many words contain "chunks," or small pieces of words that help readers to read and write many other words. These are words like cat, ball, and will that are all part of strong "word families." The word will, for instance, contains a chunk (-ill) that helps readers to read and write many other words like mill, still and fill. When good readers get stuck on new words, they look for chunks of letters that are familiar.
5. Reread. Readers often reread they know to identify or get clues about the unknown word.
6. Does it make sense? Good readers are always asking this question. They can, therefore, often identify a new word by the context clues of a sentence.7. Leap and Look. Readers may skip over the difficult words until they get more clues in the sentence. But they always remember to come back to fill in the missing word!
It is a great help for you to become acquainted with these strategies to coach your child during home reading assignments. Having a wide repertoire of word strategies will prepare your new reader for many different types of reading and ultimately for enjoyment of stories for years to come.