Sorry, another reading one... how to stop DD from guessing

(218 Posts)
Pozzled Thu 16-May-13 19:24:47

DD1 is in reception. Her reading has really taken off recently - her school don't use bookbands but she's somewhere around green level. The problem is that she is starting to guess unfamiliar words from the context rather than sounding out. Whenever she makes a mistake, I get her to use her phonics, but how can I get her to do this automatically? More phonics practice? Reading words out of context? Harder books so that she has to 'sound out' more often?

(Don't suggest I ask her teacher- the school would be quite happy for her to use mixed methods. I'm not.)

HilaryM Thu 16-May-13 19:26:53

I thought guessing was ok? If she's getting the meaning from the context it sounds eminently sensible...

mrz Thu 16-May-13 19:30:29

I wouldn't give her harder books. I imagine she is guessing because that is what she is being encouraged to do in school so really it's a case of persevering ... you could list all the words you think she will need to sound out and get her to decode these from the list before reading the book.

mrz Thu 16-May-13 19:32:39

Guessing is guessing and definitely not OK HilaryM shock

Pozzled Thu 16-May-13 19:32:53

Nope, it's not good. Because it won't help her to read new words, and to a four year old an awful lot of words are new. Also, it does lead to a lot of mistakes where they guess wrongly.

Pozzled Thu 16-May-13 19:34:02

That was to Hilary.

Thanks mrz, that sounds like a good idea.

louisianablue2000 Thu 16-May-13 19:36:49

Getting her to use her phonics is fine, when she is reading to you then you can quickly and easily get her to do it each time and it will become second nature with time. She's only little. DD1 has clearly memorised her school book, I just get her to read other books at home that she doesn't know off by heart so I have a decent idea of how well she is doing.

freetrait Thu 16-May-13 20:18:21

I think many DCs go through this stage (DS did). If they hear "sound it out" from parent listening enough times then they start to use this more naturally. I remember DS didn't like coming across unfamiliar words and guessing was a sort of panic reaction. Once he felt supported and calmer about it he was ok, and gradually this became what he did.

Also, sometimes the reading books contain words that are beyond their current phonic knowledge, or perhaps contain phonics that are not established yet. In this case it helps if you can break the words down yourself for them- with long words put your hand over bits of the word and get her to do a bit at a time- eg something like "frightening".

mrz Thu 16-May-13 20:24:20

If school reading scheme books contain words beyond the child's current knowledge then they aren't appropriate. If the child is story book with an adult then it's better to just tell the child the sound represented by a particular spelling they haven't met or if it contains lots of new sounds the adult should just say the word.

freetrait Thu 16-May-13 20:29:34

At some point, you do have to learn to swim (normal books) and ditch the armbands though (phonic books).

itsnothingoriginal Thu 16-May-13 20:32:40

Yes that's what I do Freetrait - break the word down into phonics or smaller sections. Not sure if it's the right way to help with longer and more complex words but it helped dd and I also do that with the reception kids when I listen to them reading each week.

Guessing sometimes shows they've seen a similar word and can relate it which isn't a bad thing but agree she needs a method for sounding out. Also think it's good to read easier books often to build up confidence and to get the trickier and more challenging reading done earlier rather than at bedtime!

mrz Thu 16-May-13 20:32:43

Just as you would let a teenager drive a car before you taught them which pedal is the brake?

freetrait Thu 16-May-13 21:54:17

Of course not, but again, there is a stage when you let them in your car without dual control, and then you there is the first time you take them on an A road- ooo this is making me nervous, perhaps I will start saving my money and leave that to the driving instructor smile.

Enthuse Thu 16-May-13 22:18:07

Parent reader. Many seem to go through this stage... Make a stab at half the word and can't be arsed to work out the rest
So guess. With a bit of encouragement they persevere and generally they stop as they get more confident.
Seems to be around Ort four or
Five it starts... Just on the cusp
Of proper reading...

sittinginthesun Thu 16-May-13 22:28:06

I think it's just practice. You are doing it right, it just takes time and repetition for it to happen naturally.

As for "real" books - my ds2 is nearing the end of the reading scheme at school, and could easily read Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl etc. When I listen to him read, he still comes across words he doesn't recognise. He stops, tries the phonics rules, and usually cracks it.

It just takes practice.

Pozzled Thu 16-May-13 22:32:55

Thanks all. I've been thinking about it a bit more, and have decided that I need to spend more time practising the phonics that she knows. I don't think she's seeing each phoneme often enough to be fully secure. I'll also try getting her to sound out some of the words before seeing them in context, and will make sure that I'm only expecting her to read word patterns that I've already taught her.

I still find it very irritating that the school doesn't seem to care about any of this.

clattypatty Thu 16-May-13 22:37:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FunnysInLaJardin Thu 16-May-13 22:43:07

Our school started Read Write Inc in yr 1 and since then DS1 has been able to read using a sort of code i.e. E cup of tea, A snail in the rain. He reads words or hears them and applies the RWI logic. So the ea sound is E cup of tea and the A sound is snail in the rain.

To me it is a revelation and so logical and he can now read kids novels at age 7 ie Beast Quest etc. Phonics was nonsense to me!

MegBusset Thu 16-May-13 22:45:32

This sounds totally normal, DS1 used to do the same when he was at that stage. I would just say "Don't guess - sound it out" every time. As he became more competent (and familiar with words by sight) it became less of an issue but I still have to remind him every now and then (he's 6 and a free reader now).

Pozzled Thu 16-May-13 22:49:44

clattypatty I agree that context can be useful for understanding a text, but not IMO for decoding. It should be used when the child is faced with a new word, that they haven't heard before and they need to work out what it means. I don't want my DD using the context to work out what a word says.

clattypatty Fri 17-May-13 00:23:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mrz Fri 17-May-13 07:08:27

Isn't that exactly what I said freetrait? If they are reading a story book that is beyond their current level of expertise the adult provides the knowledge (dual control) they haven't the skills to read.... but that is very different from a teacher sending home a reading scheme book to practise skills that haven't been taught hmm

mrz Fri 17-May-13 07:09:46

Mixed methods give a number of guessing skills which aren't appropriate at any age.

CalicoRose Fri 17-May-13 11:03:18

Pozzled - I was very worried about my DD guessing, and it took me a long time (many years) to realise that this is not the actual problem.

When your DD can read she won't guess anymore [duh]

So the way to stop her guessing, is not to tell her to stop guessing, but to continue to teach her to read.

Luckily your DD is in reception and is doing well, so this point will come quite soon for you.

rrbrigi Fri 17-May-13 11:36:22

My son did the same. He guessed the words that he could not read. I bought him phonics books, where all of the words can read by using his phonics knowledge. We use these types of books more than a month now, and I think he guesses less time when we read his school books, than he did a month ago. Also he learnt from the phonics books that is very important to read the end of the word too, not only look for the first few letters and guess what the word is.

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