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Teaching Reading Strategies When Students or Parents Aren't on Board

Teaching reading strategies is hard enough. But when parents or students aren't on board, it's doubly hard.
My daughter LOVED the Mercer Mayer books when she was little. At age 4, she would "read" them to herself every night in her bed -pointing to the words and repeating the stories to herself from memory. The ENTIRE stack. EVERY night. She literally memorized ALL those words and could apply them anywhere. So she accidentally learned read and that sounds great, RIGHT?! ⁠
 
Here's the PROBLEM with that method. She had NO decoding skills for new words. I had the hardest time teaching her to decode when she had such a large memorized vocabulary and felt she already KNEW how to read just fine. Ugh!
Over the years, I've encountered students like this as well. They've memorized their way into reading but struggle when they encounter unknown words and sometimes don't have any comprehension skills either. But, they [and their parents] feel they can read just fine.⁠ Helping everyone see that there are missing pieces to the reading puzzle that will come back to haunt the student can be so difficult.
 
I'm sure you've encountered students who thought they were great readers but had missing pieces in their skills. In order to get parents on board the reading train, we have to be able to communicate not just WHAT'S missing but WHY it's important.
Here's what parents need to know:
  • Great readers use a variety of fix-up strategies and can pick and choose the best option on the fly
  • Sight word knowledge is important to fluency in reading, but it's not the whole cheese.
  • Letter and sound knowledge is important for decoding at the word level - new words, words we might know orally but don't recognize in print, etc. 
  • At the letter and sound level readers ask themselves questions like - Does it look right? Does it sound right?
  • Decoding includes comprehension strategies. As they read and decode, readers ask themselves - Does that make sense?
  • Comprehension has many levels. Here's 3:
    • basic recall - What color was her shirt?
    • inferring information - The book said she was crying, so I guess she's sad.
    • synthesizing information - This character reminds me of the boy in the book we read yesterday.
  • Comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading. If we don't understand what we've read, we've wasted our time.
  • We want to grow READERS as in students who love to read, not just know HOW to read.
  • Helping students become READERS requires a multi-tiered teaching approach. Phonemic awareness, sight word knowledge, scaffolded practice, "just in time" feedback and instruction [for both skills and comprehension] and read alouds for: building vocabulary, enjoyment of books, building comprehension at a level higher than students can physically read themselves, modeling of skills in real time and so much more.
Want to help parents grow a love of reading at home?

Grab my (free) Growing Readers Cheat Sheet.

Need help with fluency and sight word knowledge? 

Go here to grab the Sight Words Made Easy  (It's free.)

I'd like to know...what reading struggles do you encounter in your classroom MOST often?
 
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