Direction is important

theFrom the beginning of Reading Recovery we are emphasizing the importance of direction.

The direction of letters:

This can be a challenging concept for the student. For example, a chair is still a chair if it is upside down, facing away from us, or tilted. The letter b is not the same if it is flipped (d) or upside down (p, q) or placed any other way that it is not the usual position. A chair is a chair in any position but a letter is not the same.


The position of the chair does not change that it is a chair.

4b 2b 3b 1b

The position of the letter b changes what it is.

In a previous post about Making and Breaking l wrote that it is important that the students know the direction that their eyes need to track as they are reading.

Looking through the word:

  • we look from left to right, e.g. the is not the same as eht,
  • letter order is important, e.g. like is not the same as ikle or leik.

slow checkTo reinforce that words are made up of individual letters, the student is asked to break one letter at a time from a word. He /she physically moves the magnetic letters across the whiteboard, e.g. c-a-t, to emphasize looking at each letter.
After the student is asked to move each letter to the left in order to break the letters out of the word, we always have the student quickly  sweep a finger under the complete word from left to right. This encourages the eyes to look through words in this direction. As we read, our eyes are moving quickly from left to right and they are looking for chunks of letters (within words) and groups of words (within sentences).

Sometimes we encourage the eyes to sweep ahead by using a masking card. As the student reads a familiar book, a piece of card is 1rocketheld by the teacher and she sweeps it along the line of the print just a little behind the student’s oral reading. (I use a card that is the shape of a rocket.) If the student is reading too slowly the card will cover the words before he/ she sees them, and therefore the student is greatly encouraged to look ahead as quickly as possible. A masking card can be a very useful tool but it should be used sparingly and l would not recommend that you use it at home as it can be a distraction or a hindrance if it is not used very carefully.

If your child is not looking from left to right have him or her slide a finger under the words whilst reading. The finger should be removed as soon as it is not needed.

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