Readong at Home

Following is some information that may assist you in Reading @ Home with your child.


Stages of reading development

Children move through stages on the way to becoming independent and successful readers. These stages are not age- or time-specific and many children are in more than one stage at the same time.

Stage 0: Pre-reading

Children identify and name some letters of the alphabet (e.g. in their name), words (e.g. their own name and those of family members), and labels (e.g. media advertising and packaging). They read some high-frequency words in books (e.g. mum, dad, dog, cat) and hold a book the right way up, point towards print, and turn the pages. They ‘read’ a story without even looking at the words (but perhaps the pictures) and can retell what happened (even remembering some exact wording). They recognise that words can start with the same sound (e.g. slippery snake) and rhyme (e.g. the cat sat on the mat­).

Stage 1: Initial reading or decoding (phonics)

Children’s listening and speaking skills are developing faster than their reading skills, i.e. they may know the meaning of words and be able to speak them before they can read them. They learn the names and sounds of the letters of the alphabet and recognise that words are composed of these letters. They learn how to decode words (phonic skills) and separate words into chunks (syllables). They can read some high-frequency words. Their reading is word-by-word (at least early on) and they use context and pictures to help them work out words. They can retell what they read and they usually read aloud.

Stage 2: Confirmation, fluency and ungluing from print

Children can decode more complex words using phonic skills and are able to identify and name further high-frequency words. They are better able to use context to work out words and meanings, and they can predict events and understand more complex books. They can retell in some detail what they have read. They have a range of reading strategies to choose from if they have difficulties. They read many familiar books that help to develop their fluency. They may still read aloud.

Stage 3: Reading to learn new things

Children are reading books and text from other sources (e.g. newspapers, magazines, the internet) that increase their knowledge about the world, relationships and ideas, and they are developing a larger spoken and reading vocabulary. They are reading some books not related to their personal experiences, and are thinking about whether they agree with the author. They develop skills to skim and scan for information and fluently read familiar books with expression. They usually read silently.

Stage 4: Multiple viewpoints

Children read a range of books where authors have different views about the same topic. They ‘weigh-up’ what they have read and develop an opinion. They read newspapers, magazines, the internet and text from other sources. They monitor whether they understand what they are reading and problem-solve any difficulties. They read silently.

(Adapted from Chall, 1983)

What if my child ‘reads’ the pictures?

Most children go through a stage of looking at the pictures in order to ‘read’ the book, but at some point there will be fewer or no pictures in some books. If your child appears to read the pictures, you may like to use the following strategies to encourage them to focus on the words:

As a page is turned, cover the picture(s) and have your child read the words on the page. Ask your child:What do you think the picture(s) will look like?

As a page is turned, cover the words and ask your child to look at the picture(s). Ask your child: What do you think the words will be? Uncover the words then have your child read the words to check whether their predictions were correct.

What should I do if my child can’t work out a word?

When listening to your child read, it’s tempting to correct the mistakes he or she makes. While this may seem helpful, your child doesn’t need to be reminded about how much you know. Being interrupted can also cause your child to lose his or her place or to become distracted. You need to give your child time to work out an unfamiliar word or, if the attempt is unsuccessful, for you to share strategies that can be used.

If your child pauses while reading, wait for five seconds to allow time for them to work out the word. Then give a helpful prompt, for example:

What do you know that could help you work it out?

What do you already know about this word?

Does the word look like any other words you already know?

Look for a part of the word that you know.

Try breaking the word into syllables.

Look at the first letter. Look at the last letter. Look at the letters in between. What do you think the word might be?

Say the first sound in the word and then read to the end of the sentence. What do you think the word might be?

Try slowly sounding it out.

I’ll say the first part of the word so you can work out the rest of it.

It rhymes with … What do you think it could be?

Read to the end of the sentence. Any idea what the word might be?

You said … but it doesn’t sound right in the sentence. Have another look at it.

Look at the word again because what you said doesn’t match what is on the page.

If the word was … what letter would it start with? What letter does this word start with?

ry the word … Does that sound right?

Choose carefully! Not all strategies will work for all words.

If your child hasn’t worked out the word after two prompts, name the word. Then ask your child to say the word again, start the sentence from the beginning and continue reading.

When the book has been finished (or your child has had enough), always talk about what was read so you can be sure he or she understood what the author was saying. 

Talking for understanding

 Sometimes it’s useful to ask a question while your child is reading, to confirm his or her understandings or to suggest a strategy, for example:

What do you think this says here?

Find the part where it says that …

On this page, I can see a word you’ve learned. Can you find it?

What word on this line tells you that …?

Listen while I read a line. See if you can find it. (Hint: Select a line near the bottom of the page.)

How do you know that …?

Find the words starting with the letter … on this page.

Do you see any of the letters in your name on this page?

Find the words with … on this page, for example, ‘in’.

With your finger, cover a word that can be predicted. What word do you think it might be?

Show me the part that tells us about the picture.