My experiences as a creative person, tutor of children, and teacher of creative writing

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Helping Your Struggling Student - Reading

Phonetic reading requires the ability to sequence small sound groups to form a whole word, then words into sentences. Visual-spatial people learn best when they learn works in context (in sentences).

It is crucial to have
a high interest book that the child enjoys. Since they easily become fatigued, we read together. They will read aloud some of the character’s parts and I read the rest. This encourages them to improve on fluency and phrasing (to read naturally with feeling).

To read successfully they must be relaxed. We focus on the excitement of the story, not on their reading performance. Sometimes it helps to ask them to think of their favorite color and try to read through it.

We never reread a story. These children bore easily. To keep up their interest, I choose books in a series. The author will use the same words over and over which will give repetition, but the story moves on.

They need first the whole idea of what is happening in the story. To do this they need help building their vocabulary and understanding the background. I always ask them if they know what the word means. If they can explain it, then we go on. I never bore them with details they don’t find interesting. I use pictures as much as possible and choose books with pictures every few pages until they become confidant readers.

As we read, I ask a child questions frequently. What do you think is going to happen next? Why do you think they did that? How can they get out of this? What does that word mean? What do you think he looks like? Let’s read and see. I constantly encourage them to use their creative ability to visualize to help them understand their reading.

Since most visual-spatial readers will not read well out loud, I will allow them to read silently if they are stressed. They will be looking for answers to some question which they answer when they are finished reading. It is important to remember that reading is not something that we say out loud, but the ability to comprehend what is on the written page.

When visual-spatial readers see words, pictures form in their mind. When they read orally, they must translate these pictures back into words. This result in many of the substitutions and omissions which cause these children to get lower scores on reading tests. The true test of reading is comprehension, which these children do amazingly well. What they will remember is not the numbers and names, but the ideas within the reading selection. They will remember and understand what they can picture in their mind.

Since they see large groups of words at a time, giving them a whole idea, they can become incredible speed readers. They need to have firmly in mind questions they are seeking answers to as they read. They need to first look at all the pictures, charts, questions at the end of a chapter, captions, table of context, chapter headings and anything else which will give them a general idea of what they are going to read. Next they will read introductory paragraphs and topic sentences. Each time them read the chapter or the book (this works best for non-fiction), they will retain more of the information and understand more.