There are lots of different strategies for helping readers of all ages. It can be difficult to know if the ones being used are the best or are the most effective. Here is a simple, easy way to ensure that any lesson or activity created will meet the needs of every child.
Whether teaching in a classroom or reading to a child at home, think about ways for the growing reader to connect with the text before reading, during the reading, and after reading. This may sound simple enough, but any quick search on the internet will yield hundreds of ideas and that is where the details get a little bit complicated. The best thing to do is select activities that focus on building a student’s skills without making the reading experience seem extremely challenging.
Before reading – It is important to discuss some of the challenging vocabulary that appears in the text. A more advanced reader may be able to use contextual clues to figure out word meaning and will be less likely to get stuck or discouraged at the sight of a new word. It is also equally important to spark interest in the passage. This is easy to achieve with a few guiding questions and can be done for a reader of any age. For younger children reading picture books, use the images on the cover to spark a conversation about what might happen in the story based on the clues provided in the picture. For older readers, ask what he or she already knows about the topic.
During reading – Arguably, the number one thing to keep in mind about struggling readers is that they often have some difficulty with prioritizing information. The best activities to use during reading are ones that help the student filter information and make decisions about what really is important. Focusing on what ideas in a passage create a cause and effect type relationship achieves this, so does any activity that asks the student to summarize parts of the entire passage. Most teachers agree that the use of a graphic organizer is good. Also, letting students read in pairs or small groups helps. Having an interaction with the words, either by verbal discussion with classmates or visually through a graphic organizer helps make the information stick.
After reading – It is one thing to identify what pieces of information might be more important than others, but it’s a completely different task to form an opinion about that information. For this reason, the best after reading activities for struggling or growing readers requires the student to form such opinions. This act may just mean answering review questions and further prioritizing information to for an opinion and make a decision as what piece of information answers the question best. It may also involve tasks like choosing a side and explaining why he or she feels that side of an argument or conflict is right. For younger readers, it could involve tasks like trying to explain why a character did something or felt a certain way. Then, have the young reader form an opinion about how he or she would feel if in that situation.
There are many ways to assist a growing reader become more comfortable with his or her ability of reading the wide variety of texts that can be found in the English language. The most important thing to keep in mind is that reading can be fun and enjoyable when appropriate activities are selected.