Choosing a More Resourceful Response
Everyone who strives to help beginning readers wants to use beneficial practices. Sometimes, the intuitive response to an unknown word is not helpful and can even be damaging. After reading the post above that is focused on helping a child with unknown words, please consider the rationale below.
A typical, and less helpful response is to ask the child to sound out the unknown word. Whether to ask the child to sound out the word or not depends on the lesson objective. During skill lessons, your objective is about the skill being taught—not about fluency. If smooth fluency is the objective, maintain focus on supporting fluid reading with an appropriate rate. When comprehension is the major objective, ask questions to direct thinking about the text. You may ask the child to look at the initial letter of the unknown word and plan to get the mouth ready to make the first sound when the child re-reads the sentence.
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