It can be confusing for parents because sometimes teachers tell students that they should be pointing to the words, and at other times we tell them to stop pointing with their fingers and just read with their eyes. Why the difference?
Pointing is one of the first strategies a beginning reader can use to check his/ her reading. Teachers sometimes use words like ‘self monitoring’ to refer to this strategy. This simply means that pointing helps to remind your child to look at each word. Some children do not realise that words give us the message. (They think reading is looking at the pictures.) Some children add or leave out words. (They are not matching one spoken word for one written word.)
Pointing helps a child to focus and to notice the details of our written language. As your child develops his / her reading skills and grows in confidence, you will see him / her pointing less frequently. He /she will be able to ‘point with the eyes’. Eventually his / her eyes will move quickly across the lines of print.
Pointing is just another tool to help your child read when he / she is beginning to read and at times of difficulty (when he / she needs to slow down and have a closer look).
We do not encourage our students to continue to point once they are doing the one-one matching of voice and print because pointing slows down the reading and gets in the way of maintaining meaning.