Being flexible

Flexibility-Cartoon-When Marie Clay was researching ways to help struggling students to read she began by investigating what good readers do as they read. She found that competent readers quickly change between reading strategies by selecting what works best for each situation.

We want our students to be flexible. If one strategy is not working the student needs to quickly try something else.

If the student is stuck l might ask- What else can you try? This question is inviting the student to recall other known strategies. 

The student might:

  • search the picture for clues,
  • reread to regather the meaning / structure / momentum,
  • think about what has happened so far to predict what may come next,
  • reread and get ready to say the beginning of the next word,
  • look for a part of the word he knows,
  • think of another word that looks a bit like that,
  • take the word apart,
  • try saying the word, or part of the word, a different way,
  • look back to where she saw the word before,
  • keep on reading to see if that helps.

If your child is only using 1 strategy every time he / she is stuck, try to encourage the use of something else reading childrenthat may work better for that word. A caution- asking a child to take a word like ‘because‘ apart is not very helpful. Or asking a child to think about the story when he does not know much about the topic, e.g. car engines, is not helpful. Asking the child to look for a small word inside the word is not always helpful, e.g. me within come is no help at all. Some words will have to be ‘told’ and that is OK.

The main message for the child is don’t give up after one attempt.  Don’t keep using what is not working for that word. Try something else.

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