Reading to brothers and sisters

Encourage older children to read to their younger brothers and sisters. Older children often enjoy showing off their skills to admiring listeners.

Both the older and younger siblings will benefit from this sharing. The younger sibling has the benefit of being read to, and the older child has a real purpose to develop more fluency (sound better).

Younger children may also like a turn at reading to a supportive older sibling.


Solving tricky words

Here are some prompts you could try at home when your child needs help to solve a word. (From



Get your lips readye.g. Ben can cat__ the big red ball. (1st part of word and reading on. May then be enough information to predict the whole word.)

Stretch it oute.g. r-e-d / red

Chunk the worde.g. c-at-ch  /  cat-ch / catch

Skip it, hop backe.g. Ben can ______ the big red ball. (Leave out the tricky word. Read on to end. Go back to the start of the sentence and try again with more meaning known.)

Flip the vowelVowels (a e i o u) can be said different ways. Sometimes the student will need to try more than one way of saying the vowel within a word, before he or she can hear a word that would make sense, e.g. a can have the short sound like it has in catch or it can have a long sound like it has in made.

A slow check

Do a slow check.

Does it match?

Sometimes the student is asked to do a slow check as a means of checking and correcting a word. The student slides a finger under the word as he slowly says it. The purpose is to notice if the look and the sound of the word matches.

This is something you can try at home after a word is incorrectly read. Have your child slide her finger under the word in the book as she slowly says it. You may have to say the word as well, and emphasize the sounds that do not match, before a mismatch is noticed by your child. (Do not confuse your child by doing this with a word that does not sound like it looks!)

Reflections on the year so far…

How quickly the year is passing!

At this time of the year it is useful to reflect on the positive impact that Reading Recovery is having on previously struggling Year One students.

Each time a student is discontinued from Reading Recovery, l write a report on the progress that has been made, and l am always amazed to look back at how far the student has come, from the beginning of Reading Recovery to the end.

When you are listening to your child read at home do you notice a difference over time? Can you remember how he or she sounded prior to Reading Recovery? Have you noticed a difference in attitude to reading and writing? Sometimes it is easy to forget how reluctant your child may have once been, and how much effort has gone into learning new ways of solving words.

Do you remember to praise your child and tell him or her how good the reading is sounding? It is easy to remember to do this early in the lessons, but after a while we can just assume that the students detect that we notice, and appreciate, their achievements. I have to remind myself to praise the students for the things they get right, just as much as pointing out what needs fixing.

Reading Recovery has provided all of the discontinued students with a greater sense of worth as readers and writers, and they know that they are required to think for themselves before asking for help. One student transferred to another school before he had fully completed his series of lessons. Unfortunately his new school did not have Reading Recovery and so he was unable to continue. As a school community, we are very fortunate that the leaders of St Albans East P.S. have continued to fund and support Reading Recovery.

Most of the Reading Recovery ‘graduates’ have become much more independent in the classroom, and the others require much less assistance than was previously needed.  We should remember that students who have finished Reading Recovery have not completed their learning. We want them to continue to use the things that they have been learning, to learn even more. It can be a big adjustment to stop going to daily lessons. No longer is there a teacher devoted just to that child for 30 minutes each day, reminding him or her of what is known, and giving a prod when it is easier not to try.

As parents and teachers, we need to continue to provide the right conditions to support the child. Once your child has stopped Reading Recovery, don’t stop hearing your child read every day. Keep showing that you are interested in how he or she is going. Classroom teachers know to give the ex-Reading Recovery student the extra guidance that may still be needed. We do not want any past feelings of inadequacy to return. Negative feelings get in the way of learning.

Term 4 will be a busy time. There will be more students finishing Reading Recovery, and others who will have just begun their R.R. journey.

Letter Identification

During the Reading Recovery lesson the student is asked to identify and sort magnetic letters to:

Promote fast recognition of letters (a skill that is needed when reading).

Look for similarities and differences between letters.

Learn / revise the names and sounds of letters.

Your child may have magnetic letters at home that can be used for sorting, matching and making words. Children can sort magnetic letters in many ways including: Color (e.g. find all the red letters), Letter (e.g. find all the ‘g’s), Uppercase versus lowercase (e.g. find all the capital letters), In my name, In my friend’s name, Have holes, Have curves, Straight lines, Tails, Tall versus short, and Sounds (e.g. match the letters and picture cards).


At-risk readers need more time to think.

PAUSE when your child makes an error when reading. WAIT for him or her to realise that it does not make sense or look right. Research shows that we often give children less than one second before we jump in to take over. We should wait 3-5 seconds before prompting or helping because the child may be able to solve the problem independently.

At-risk readers need more time to think.

If others keep fixing the problem, the at-risk child will stop trying.

What is a running record?

Every day the Reading Recovery teacher takes a running record of the book that was introduced the previous day. This is to capture what the student understands about reading. Young children usually think aloud and it is possible to hear what they are trying, rejecting and changing. Marie Clay, the educator who began Reading Recovery, designed a way of recording what the student is doing as he or she reads aloud. A running record is not just the recording of right and wrong words. The teacher uses letters and symbols to record behaviours such as rereading, asking for help, substituting words, saying parts of the word, and self correcting.

Running Records are used to select “just right” books, (e.g.  Are there too many errors? Is there too much reading work needed? Does it sound too easy?), and the teaching of appropriate strategies for that child at that time, (e.g. What is the student not doing? Is he noticing an error does not look right? Does it make sense? Is she saying any part of the word?) The teacher records if the child is using meaning (M), the look of the word (V), and the surrounding words in the sentence(S) when an error or a self correction is made. Running records also allow the teacher to document progress over time.

Read to your child

Make use of the local library. Take an interest in the books that your child is selecting and help him or her to find similar books. Read aloud to your child, especially a child who is discouraged by his or her own poor reading skills. The pleasure of listening to you read books that are beyond your child’s current ability, may encourage a renewed enthusiasm for books and reading.