Thursday, September 3, 2009

Read it Again...please!

Read it again…please.” Did your child ever ask to hear the same story over and over? It gets to the point where you no longer need to see the words, and if you dare to change any aspect of the story, well you’re in for it, “It doesn’t go that way. Read it the right way.”

What may not be so apparent is the reason why young children love these tried and true stories. The truth is the benefits from repeated readings provide opportunities to develop early literacy skills. With each reading, a book reveals something new. It’s all a matter of children’s perspective; for instance, one day they are learning to navigate “book talk” as they expand their understandings for vocabulary or syntax. The next time they may study illustrations and concepts. Think of it like this, a book has many layers each time it is reread a child can go deeper into its design. In a sense, this is how children learn to build a book in their heads.

Once children have the intellectual capacity to understand the dynamics of a book; rereading provides ample possibilities for increased fluency and comprehension. Fluency is one of the most researched areas in literacy. It is comprised of three elements: accuracy (reading the words correctly), rate (reading the words in a conversational way), and prosody (expression when reading words or phrases). Yet how to teach fluency is still somewhat ambiguous to both educators and parents. Start with this question, what is happening during reading?

If the reader is not accurate when reading, like horse for house. The issue could be there is some missing phonics skill like the sound "ou" makes in the word house. It could be that the reader doesn't know enough sight words. Sight words are words children need to know automatically like "the" these words are tricky for children because they cannot sound them out. It might be that the reader does not have the oral vocabulary to match the decoding attempt. So if the child knows a word like timid knows there is a likelihood for accurate decoding.

If readers are reading too slowly it might be that they are decoding letter by letter. If it takes too many tries to read the word,this too will impinge on the overall fluency which in turn effects comprehension. Fluency and comprehension are linked, it has a lot to do with working memory. Look at this way, if it takes too long to read a word in a sentence the child may forget what the sentence meant in the first place.

If the reader lacks prosody it could be that punctuation goes unnoticed. They do not have a deep understanding for syntax (see how those early experiences all come back). They are expending too much intellectual energy on decoding the words to manage real expression during reading.

Try this website to make repeated reading fun.
Poetry Theater @ Giggle

Reader's Theater is a great way to encourage children to reread text. If they have to perform what they are reading it is a sure way to motivate children while having a good time. Let me know what you think.

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