Many teachers who work with early English readers know that students need a lot of support, encouragement, and feedback as they develop their skills. A balanced reading program includes individual reading and small group readings. Small group literacy instruction is an important component of this balanced approach because it gives student a comfortable environment to practice and apply new skills and knowledge.
As an online language teacher, it is not always easy to do so from a “distance” and when I am limited to seeing students once a week or a few times a week. I understand that being dedicated to helping my students build literacy skills means I have to take advantage of the time I have with them online and work with parents to help their children succeed.
As a parent, I remembered when my experience with my son who was learning how to read at Preschool age. We had a library at home full of books and learning tools, but his toys always interested him more…sound familiar? ☺ So, I know that this learning journey is not always easy, but I want to share that it just takes ONE moment for them to flip the switch and things starts to fall into place. It will happen. My son was attending a private school for Pre-K and Kindergarten, then we switched to a charter school where he met a wonderful first grade teacher. It was a different atmosphere for my kids, and it was not as robotic. Honestly, I do not know at what moment he fell in love with reading because he came home one day and asked me to read more books. Then the next month, he was the librarian of his class. From that point on, my son has been a self- motivated reader. It was like magic!
To improve reading skills, students should practice consistently and enjoy the process while doing it. Today, I want to share some tips with you to help bridge the gap when you do not see your teachers and what you can do at home.
- Have a routine.
A routine helps student to build on prior knowledge and connect those with new concepts. It also lets them know that we have a goal and will work on it together. Here is an example of a routine:
- Warm up 2-5 mins. Review prior skills.
- Introduce new concepts through direct teaching or modeling.
- Support your child while they try out their new skills. Try using this model – I say, We say, You say.
- Give positive feedback and praises while they try it on their own.
- Remember to check for understanding before finishing or moving onto the next skill.
- Try different grouping strategies for small reading groups.
When choosing groups, your child should be around the same reading level as the other readers. I also believe that it is important to be around the same age group range within a year of two because the content should be relevant to that age group to keep their interest. The small reading group can be focusing on using a particular strategy or pair student with a friend or classmate. At Schoolization, we offer small group classes across the countries or customize small group classes with students who know each other already. Everyone has a good time learning together. It decreases the anxiety level when speaking in front of friends they know already.
- Balance your guidance.
Whether it is online or in person in small group reading classes or individual reading time, you can concentrate on different areas of literacy interventions. You want to provide a well-balanced environment for them to apply a variety of skills. These are some areas to concentrate on:
- Phonics: This is reading proper letter sounds and putting synthetics together to blend and make a word. We build from this technique- from a word to sentences, sentences to paragraphs, paragraphs to chapters in a book, then a whole storybook.
- Acquiring new vocabulary: There will be new words to learn and it’s important to understand the words we’re reading. Please remember to find out and teach the new vocabulary to your child and check for understanding without assuming they know. I call this process building up their word bank.
- Building Comprehension: Many young learners are embarrassed to say they don’t know. We need to communicate to them it is okay to not know something, but it is important to learn what we don’t know. So find the answers and research together. We need to build a solid foundation to fully build comprehension. When reading, stop every now and then “check points” to make sure they understand what is happening in the story. Ask specific questions and not simple “yes or no” questions. If needed, go back to the part with the answers and re-read it again.
- Increasing Fluency: The more our children practice, the more they listen to the language, the higher the chance to increase their fluency in the language.
- Give Praises: Many of the parents I coach forget this key element to teaching and guiding. They forget to give praises. When your child reads something correct, you give praises to keep them motivated. When your child struggles and mispronounces a word but you can see they tried really hard, you still give them praises to let them know that their efforts count a lot. Give proper rewards to keep them driven and have faith they can do it!
- Be open and assess your child’s progress honestly.
Assess your child honestly and be open to exactly where they are at with their progress. There’s no need to push them to a place where they don’t belong. If they are doing awesome then maybe offer your child something that can challenge them to the next level. If they are having a hard time, be honest and find the original of the problem and that’s where we start building up. We cannot help them if we don’t know where, how, and why.
- Find good digital text:
In this modern age, many things have gone digital. And in the online school world, we’ve gone pretty much digital for classes, text, supplement story times, reading clubs, etc. Buying hard copy books can be expensive, so a good solution is to find free digital books or join an organization who has access to these free books at no charge to you. We offer a free book club membership to our students and your child can read digital English books anytime anywhere. We have students across the world, and this is a great way to offer good digital text to young learners no matter where they are at.
In addition to individual reading time, small group time can be a powerful tool for any reader. These tips are simple guidelines that can help you get the most out of the experience. The times you dedicate to your children’s literacy education is another opportunity to build a relationship with them. The time spent together is valuable and take advantage of the PRESENT (now) moment. Did you know that the word “PRESENT” also means a gift? ☺
Let me know in the comments below if you have any other tips for guided reading for young learners that you use! Share with other parents on how you do it.