What do you need to understand about teaching reading at any level?

Teaching reading at any level should incorporate three important elements. These elements are Meaning (This means the meaning of the story.), Structure (This means the structure of our language, and sometimes the structure of how the book is written.), and Visual (This means how the words look.) Sometimes people refer to these elements as MSV. MSV should always be considered and developed in each child at any reading level, but the earlier you start teaching these elements the better your child’s reading will become and the less they will struggle in reading.

Preschool girl reading a book. The most important element to teach is the BIG M, MEANING. When you teach your children how to use Meaning as they are reading, you are teaching your child how to comprehend the story. There is nothing more important than that. So, how do you teach children especially beginning readers how to comprehend the story?

1. First you have to teach what “make sense” means.

Say: “When we read the story has to make sense.”

You can show them the picture and tell them this will help us make the story make sense. Also, tell them to try something that makes sense in the story when they come to a tricky word.

2. When you are having them read levels 3 and up, you will ask them to start the beginning sound of the tricky word and try something that makes sense in the story.

Say: “Start the first sound and try something that makes sense in the story.”

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Always try to keep your talking short and to the point especially while they are reading. You don’t want to give them too many things to do and take away from them concentrating on reading the story.

The next important element to try is Structure. When reading one must make sense, but also “sound right”. When we sound right, it means our reading sounds like the way we talk; the structure of our language. For example: If a child is reading and they come to a tricky word. They say “what” instead of “went”. The story reads “The boy went to the store with his mom.” It does not “sound right” to say… The boy what, because we do not talk like that. So, how do you teach children to make their reading sound right?

1. First, you have to teach them what you mean when you say “Reading needs to sound right.”

Say: “Reading needs to sound like the way we talk.” “When you read and make your reading sound like the way we talk, you are making your reading “Sound right”.

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Don’t be surprised if you have to teach this element many times for them to understand what you mean. You are the teacher! When teaching something you will likely repeat it many times before they understand.

2. So, what happens if they don’t understand after you explain this concept? You up your support by breaking it down for them. Now, you give them a choice. When they are reading, they start the first sound then they get stuck. You say… “What would sound right, what or with?”

3. But let’s say they still don’t know. They are still stuck when you gave them a choice. You up your support again. You say the sentence for them using each choice you gave them. (Ex. The boy what; The boy went) Then ask them… “Which one sounds like the way we talk?” When they give you the correct choice, you say… “Yes, that’s right. The boy went sounds like the way we talk. So that “Sounds right”. That’s what it means to “Sound right.”

Reading Books

The last element of reading that needs to be taught is Visual. Visual is in part phonics. Sometimes when you cannot figure out a word through the meaning of the story or making it sound right, you have to use visual information to help you figure out that tricky word. There are two ways to use the visual information.

1. They first need to be able to put the sounds together Fast and Smooth. Some people say “Sound it out”. This is the same thing. But we say… “Put the sounds together Fast and Smooth.” Why? Because when you say “sound it out” and then you teach them to say c-a-t, it is hard to figure out that word. Why? Because children hear the individual sounds they don’t hear it as a word. So, you teach them to put the sounds together Fast and Smooth, because the sounds blend together better. Then the child hears the word that is being formed since the sounds are blending together and they figure it out themselves.

2. The second way of teaching children visual is through how words work. The way words work is through changing parts to make new words. Sometimes people use what they call “Word Families”. But it is more than just Word Families, because you can actually change all the parts of a word to make a new word. Once a child knows how words work, they will be able to look for parts they know in tricky words to help them figure out the tricky word.

By using all three of these elements when teaching reading, you will have a reader who has a variety of strategies to help them figure out tricky words when reading.

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