I have so much to share with you! Smile…I am trying to give bite-sized pieces as I truly want all parents (including non-homeschooling ones) to see the terrific impact you can have on your child academically in the summer (if your kid(s) need summer “tutoring”). My prayer is that all PP 365 readers’ children who attend school will go back to school with confidence and gained skills from having worked with Mom or Dad in the summer. (Of course, I want that for homeschoolers, too!)

I have given links for our favorite first two sets of “graded” readers for you to use as you help your struggling reader this summer. Today I would like to give some tips on moving your little reader from truly phonetically-controlled readers (such as the “Bob” books) into more vocabulary-controlled readers (those with limited number and difficulty of words but with words that do NOT only follow a certain phonetic rule).

1. If you have vocabulary-controlled readers with a word list given for that book (like many do—and specifically, like the “Hear Me Read” books do), just start with the book that has the fewest number of words listed. (I labeled mine with numbers with the book containing the fewest words first, then the next number of words follow that one, etc.—thus, the book that contained only twelve words became our “book one”; the one with fifteen words became our “book two,” etc.).

2. Keep in mind that reading OUT of context is more difficult than reading IN context. Thus, I usually began having my student read the BOOK to me (not the word list)—parents and teachers alike have a tendency to do just the opposite. (Or, if he needed extra help and confidence-boosting, I would read the word list TO him, pointing out any sounds he knew, commonalities, etc. before he read the book to me.) After he read the book, I had him read the word list. (Again, as parents and teachers, let’s keep as our focus the giving of the most tools that we can give to help our kids succeed!)

3. On the next day we met, I had him read the word list and the book from yesterday’s book for review, then we began another one. (I already detailed how he had “read with Mom,” “read with brother or Grandpa,” and “read silently” readers going in an earlier post.)

4. Keep in mind that “vocabulary-controlled” readers may be all over the map as far as phonetic components are concerned. If there are three words with short “a” families (last, gap, track), point these out and remind your student that these are families he learned in phonics and his “Bob” books. Again, give him every tool and opportunity for success. Some of the words will not have commonalities. You may need to point out how this word or that word is similar to words he already knows.

5. Do not be concerned with writing or spelling at this stage unless she (usually a girl!) wants to write the words. Decoding and encoding are similar to math much like addition and subtraction. Get a little addition under your belt, then you can do the inverse of addition—subtraction. Get a little reading (decoding) under your belt, then you can do the inverse (encoding—spelling of the words). Remember, you are trying to take your child from non-reader to reader—not teach him to spell, teach him to divide, teach him the state capitals, etc. Learning to read is hard work—let him focus on that hard work.

6. When he gets stuck on a word, it will be difficult to know what to do at times. I have always believed in giving a child the least amount of help he needs to succeed (in reading, editing reports, etc.)—but giving him as much as he needs, as well. Thus, you will likely need to help him, but how much each time can vary. Consider these ideas:

a. If it is an occasional mis-read, you can probably say something like, “Remember, this is a long e family…we learned this…I think you can get it–what is the family you see (eep)…yes, now put the “kuh” sound before it—can you sound it out now?”

b. If “a” above doesn’t work, go to rhyming words. “It is the eep family—remember this family—it rhymes with beep, sleep, creep, etc.?

c. If there are many, many mis-reads, you may need to go back to “Bob” for a little longer and be sure his early phonetic families are solidified.

d. If there are moderate mis-reads, consider reading every other sentence. He reads a sentence, you read a sentence—and stay with each reader longer than a day or two, until he has mastery of it himself.

e. Avoid saying, “This one is so easy—you should know this…” as much as possible.

f. Avoid exasperation at all costs. Read the entire reader to him. Tell him, “You have been reading to me so much lately, that I hardly get to read you anymore. Let me read this one today, and you can read it to me tomorrow”—or whatever it takes to let him off the hook gently. Remember—his not being able or ready to learn to read is not his fault. (Obviously, uncooperativeness and laziness are different than readiness—but we Moms know the difference, don’t we? Smile…)

Tomorrow—more “vocabulary-controlled” reader links and suggestions. Hope you’re having phonics-fun with your little ones this summer!

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