Good reader makes silly mistakes

(13 Posts)
insearchoftheFlumFlumTree Mon 20-Jan-14 14:09:12

Just wondering if anyone has any ideas.

My DS is 5. We live abroad and so he is still in pre-school where they are not formally teaching reading, but he was desperate to learn to read from quite a young age, and so I taught him myself using British resources (ORT / Usborne / 'real' books).

He seems like a really good little reader to me, and he is certainly enthusiastic. He is generally pretty fluent and reads with great expression etc. He copes well with phonetically less-than-obvious words, and can read some fairly "difficult" words (e.g. last night's book included the words "spitefully" / "vileness" / "pageboy" / "untied", all of which were new for him but he could read straight off).

The 'problem' (maybe it's not a problem?) is that he makes lots of little mistakes, that I think are just about concentration / not reading properly. Eg he will substitute "a" for "the", or vice versa - almost as if he is looking ahead to the rest of the sentence (possibly to work out what sort ifsilly voice he needs to put on!) and just guessing what the "filler" words are. Another example might be saying "this" when the text says "that"; usually the sentence which he reads out still makes sense, but it's just not exactly what is written down.

Any ideas as to how I could help him with this? I know he's very little, and it's not that I mind at all - his reading is great - but he sometimes gets annoyed if I correct him (and reading has always been a real highlight of the day for both of us), however I'm reluctant to let it go and allow this to become an engrained bad habit.

redskyatnight Mon 20-Jan-14 14:35:27

I think as long as it's not changing the meaning of the text, (my DS had a tendency to read "would" for "wouldn't" or vice versa, which obviously made a huge difference!) I would let it go. I think he's actually showing that he understands what is going on and is guessing ahead which is a good skill to have. I'm not sure it is a bad habit - I notice when I am reading allowed to my own children I will often miss a word or substitute a synonym for another - yes I'm not strictly reading the text, but it doesn't actually matter!

If what he's reading changes the meaning I would point it out, but not labour the point - chances are he is focussed on working out the "hard stuff" so not paying so much attention to the "easy stuff". WHen the hard stuff becomes also not so hard, we will refocus naturally.

nonicknameseemsavailable Mon 20-Jan-14 14:50:17

with DD2 as there is only 1 or 2 sentences on a page I would just read it back to her when she has finished reading it. It would therefore be corrected almost straight away and it also recaps the text, especially useful if it has included sounding out of words or expression could have been used but it isn't treading on their toes if that makes sense.

I often do it myself, and they tend to correct me when I am reading to them!

tumbletumble Mon 20-Jan-14 14:53:45

My DD age 6 does this too - she'll get the hard words right but make silly mistakes just like your examples (this/that etc). I do usually correct her but I don't make a big deal of it as I want her to continue to enjoy reading.

teafor1 Mon 20-Jan-14 16:22:17

My six year old does this as well. He really started to do it when his reading increased in speed and fluency. Especially the a/the switch. Sometimes I correct him and sometimes I don't depending on how it would break up his flow. I would correct if it influenced the meaning of the sentence.

freetrait Mon 20-Jan-14 16:39:47

Tricky one. Sometimes I think you have to be strict, but sometimes you can let things go.

Perhaps you could get him to read a paragraph a bit slower concentrating well to read exactly what's on the page- maybe at the beginning of the session/separate session? I think it's a normal part of developing as a reader, (ie the making small mistakes), but you want to make sure it doesn't become an ingrained bad habit as you say.

I think DS did this, but has largely stopped now (at 7). I do stop and pick him up on any mistakes now and just ask him to repeat it, or say "can you read exactly what it says there".

Poledra Mon 20-Jan-14 16:47:54

My mother is a retired school teacher. She has told me in the past that this (making silly little mistakes that don't change the meaning of the sentence) is part of learning to read. Think about it - when you read yourself, you don't actually read every single word - you take in the key words and almost 'derive' the rest of the sentence from that, which explain why sometimes we get it wrong despite having been able readers for years. He's learning that skill but not quite getting it right every time (he's not taking in enough of the word to get the precise word right, but is getting the gist of the sentence). She would advise the 'reading back' approach, as someone else said, so that you read back the sentence with the correct word. Reading, according to mum, is a (and I quote) 'psycholinguistic guessing game' where your knowledge of reading, your knowledge of the world and your anticipation of the outcome come together to allow you to decode the sentence.

columngollum Mon 20-Jan-14 16:57:35

Adults do that too. Awareness is all.

Ferguson Mon 20-Jan-14 18:42:33

As a retired TA, I would agree with most of these replies, that at DS's age and level of competence, 'slips' in details can probably be overlooked for now. It's better to encourage enjoyment and confidence, rather than be pedantic and possibly discourage a child.

If there are SPECIFIC slips that keep on occurring, you could mention at some stage, but provided the sense of the text is still there and he is happy, that is the main thing.

Children can sometimes notice details that would be invisible to an adult. I had a child who was reading a book about a pink dragon, but she noticed that the pictures of the dragon varied in the degree of 'pinkness' from one page to another: she was most indignant, and demanded to know why it had been coloured differently. I tried to explain it just varied in the printing of the book, or the light was different, but she (rightly) said if it was the same dragon, it should stay the same colour pink!

insearchoftheFlumFlumTree Tue 21-Jan-14 09:16:28

Thank you so much all for your replies. I'm reassured to know that other children do this, and will not make a big issue of it going forward - the 'reading back' approach sounds perfect.

I agreed when I think about it that adults do to too - I certainly do. Perhaps it does show that he understands and is reading for meaning rather than simply the words.

And yes, enjoyment is definitely the main thing, I'd hate to put him off so I'm glad you're not all saying "Oh, in the UK teachers would insists on you sorting this out every time".

maizieD Tue 21-Jan-14 11:11:47

I would be very wary about using adult reading behaviour as a model for a beginning reader. When you are skilled at anything you know what you can let slip and what needs to be done correctly but beginners need to learn the correct way before they can modify it to suit themselves.

As everyone says, it is very early days yet and a few slips on those apparently insignificant little words aren't a mortal sin but as more and more words become as familiar as 'the' and 'is' etc. will he start slipping on them, too?

Reading for meaning means reading exactly what is on the page, not making up your own version! It is the words on the page that are conveying the meaning. Substituting or missing out words may or may not alter the overall meaning but how do you know that you haven't altered the meaning if you don't attend carefully to what is actually written?

Just some things to think about.

insearchoftheFlumFlumTree Tue 21-Jan-14 21:01:10

Thanks maizie. Would you suggest I correct him every time then? For example, tonight he read the words "....and knocked him off the bike" as "....and knocked him off his bike", which didn't alter the meaning at all. So I read the sentence back to him, but didn't make a big issue of it. I would worry a little that if I corrected these sorts of mistakes every time he made them (maybe once every few pages - tonight we probably had 2 or 3 similar mistakes in a 25 page book which took him 15 minutes to read) then he'd start to feel that he was getting a negative message about his reading, when actually he is really good.

I just feel a bit confused as to how I should be addressing this, as he is only being taught by me, and I don't have a teacher to ask for advice (his kindergarten teacher won't even go there.....).

CecilyP Wed 22-Jan-14 16:29:26

tonight he read the words ...and knocked him off the bike" as "....and knocked him off his bike", which didn't alter the meaning at all.

That really sounds as if he was thinking ahead, rather than misreading 'the' as 'his'. That is the sort of change that a fluent reader would make, rather than a mistake. I would let this sort of thing go but correct if there are any common substitutions or, as Ferguson said, if there are SPECIFIC slips that keep on occurring.

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