Good readers know that why they are reading will determine how they read.
• Why they are reading will decide how quickly they read.
If they are reading something that they need to remember, perhaps for a test, then they read slowly.
If they are reading something that it is important that they understand, then they will not only read slowly, but they will also re-read to make certain they have understood.
If they are reading for pleasure, then the rate of reading is not important, and they might read much more quickly.
• Why they are reading will decide how carefully they read.
If they are reading something in order to get the ‘big picture’, to work out what the magazine or newspaper article is all about, then they will skim the words rather than read each one individually. They will focus on the opening paragraph, on the opening sentence of other paragraphs, and on the concluding paragraph. The rate of reading will be fairly quick.
If they are reading for a particular piece of information then they will scan the article or chapter, searching for key words. When they find those key words they will stop and read the surrounding sentences or paragraph carefully to see if they information they require is to be found there.
Readers who lack confidence tend to waste a lot of time, and create a lot of anxiety for themselves, by thinking that they have to read every word no matter what their purpose is in reading. You can help your child to read more efficiently, by (a) identifying their purpose in reading and then (b) showing them what kind of reading is going to be most appropriate for that purpose.
Just because your children are growing up, this doesn’t mean you have to stop reading to and with them. But perhaps what you read can change.
What you can read to your children
- Older children enjoy having chapter books read to them. Nine-year-olds, for example, who cannot read Harry Potter independently are very happy to listen to a parent’s reading. Involve your child in the choice of book and establish how and when you will read.
- Older children who have not ‘taken’ to reading independently often prefer to be read non-fiction books on a topic that interests them. Science and nature books, and books on sports, are often popular with boys, for instance. And when you talk together about the book content, you are also encouraging the development of their oral and thinking skills.
- Reading need not be confined to books. Many older readers are reading material on the Internet. You can explore a website with your child, helping him or her to recognize hyperlinks and to navigate around the website in a useful way. Since navigation of websites often involves ‘wrong’ choices and the need to backtrack in order to find information, exploring a website together is a good way to demonstrate how this is done in a meaningful rather than a random way.
- Don’t overlook picture books. There are lots of picture books that are suitable for older readers and which will stimulate a great deal of discussion.
How you can read to your children
Read in a way that provides your listening child with extra clues to help him or her understand what you are reading.
- Read at a moderate pace to give the listener time to absorb what you’re reading.
- Pause at full-stops.
- Read with intonation that indicates, for example, the mood of a speaking character. If the character is angry, use a tone that expresses this.
- Raise your voice at the end of a sentence that asks a question.
- If reading a book with pictures, photographs or diagrams, stop to ask questions and discuss.
- If reading a story, perhaps change your voice to reflect the character who is speaking.
- Ask questions about what you’re reading: ‘What do you think will happen next?’ ‘Why do you think he did that?’
- If reading a chapter book, try to stop at a suspenseful point, one that leaves them wanting to find out what happens next. Create a sense of anticipation.
We’re interested in all things educational, and if you’re reading this blog then you probably are, too.
Our first blogs will concentrate on telling you how to get the most out of your OTISA subscription. (Check out the resource at http://www.otisa.com.au if you haven’t already.)
Subsequent blogs will bring you news from the world of education as well as classroom teaching tips and info for all those parents who are actively involved in their children’s learning.
If you’re a parent, here are some ways in which you can help your child use OTISA.
- encourage your child to use the grid to select the element they want to learn about. Make sure that they are the ones who choose, so that they are more engaged and interested.
- when your child first begins to use OTISA, it would be helpful if you could be there while they read or listen to the Introduction screens. This will give you the opportunity to make sure the child understands the instructional aspect before they start on the activities.
- do a couple of the activities together. (It may well be the case that your child shows you how it’s done, which is of course very good for their self-esteem.)
- encourage your child to use the following process, which is designed to make them think about their answers and to fix the ones that are incorrect:
a. have a go at an activity
b. select How did I do?
c. If there are errors, go back and try again. If there are no errors, read Check the Explanation. It’s important to do this so that the learning is confirmed. Getting correct answers doesn’t necessarily mean that understanding has occurred.
d. if there are still errors after a second attempt, select Which ones are correct? This helps students to identify where they are wrong and to have a final go at getting the correct answer.
f. After this attempt, whether they still have errors or not, they select Check the Explanation.
Because there are lots of activities of the same kind, students can always have more than one attempt at the learning.
- if the child has difficulty with the activities, encourage them to go back to the Introduction and to listen to the instructional aspect. You could also go through the Explanations with them.
- use the resource frequently for short periods of time – say 10 minutes at a time – unless, of course, the child decides otherwise and wants to continue.