There’s a song that says that ‘sorry seems to be the hardest word’. Well I think that the hardest word is often the first word of a sentence. Why? Because there is little or no context (meaning or structure) to support the look of the word.
If your child is stuck on the first word of a sentence don’t think that you’re doing the wrong thing if you just tell him / her what it is to move the reading along.
Sometimes I will tell the word. Sometimes I will give a prompt to action and if that does not work I will tell the word.
Here are some ways that I’ve helped students to get started :
Day after day “We’d probably say ‘every day’ but the author chose ‘day after day’. Say it with me. Day after day”. (‘Day’ might be a word that is usually recognized by this student, but it is not known in this context.)
Kieron “That boy is ‘Kieron'”. (Pointed to picture and pointed to 1st word.) “Can you say ‘Kieron’?” (To become familiar with the look and sound of the word.)
Matthew “Who is still making the card?” (A call to use some visual information and meaning (print and picture) to support a decision.)
They “Does it look like ‘They’ or ‘Then’?” (Reducing the choice to 2 words. Will need to look through the whole word.)
Then “What do you think happened then?” (Giving some context and putting the word ‘then’ into the student’s mix of possibilities.)
After “What do you think will happen after school?” (Context for the 1st word, and also a call to think about what might come next (structure and meaning).)
Thunder “Look at the black clouds in the sky. Look at the beginning of the word and think about what might happen”. (Giving some context and a call to crosscheck meaning with the look of the word.)
Everyone “Can you see a part you know? Can you say more?” (A call to take the word apart as I know he knows both ‘every’ and ‘one’.)
You have to know the reader well in order to choose an appropriate prompt. If in doubt- Tell.