The following post was originally written for helping teachers use the Reading Horizons program in schools, but this can certainly be applied also by homeschoolers or those who are supplementing school work at home.
By: Shantell Berrett, Reading Horizons Reading Specialist
Along with hours of preparation and work, a new school year bears anticipation and excitement of a new beginning. It is a new chance for creating opportunities for success for both students and teachers. There are three tips that can help ensure success with the Reading Horizons reading program this year.
Summer often leaves students in need of a refresher at the first of the new school year to remember skills learned before the break. Taking the first four to six weeks to review the phonics skills learned in Reading Horizons will help students recall and reinforce strategies that they can use throughout the school year to handle unfamiliar words and build new vocabulary. (Click hereto find a scheduled outline of how to review these skills in four to six weeks.)
When students learn phonetic or comprehension strategies they still may have a difficult time applying them in context reading. Be very clear and give explicit, visual instruction as to how to do that. For example, when students get to a word they don’t know they should sound it out at least twice from the beginning to the end without stopping or guessing. This creates a new habit of processing phonologically and breaks the bad habit of skipping or guessing at unfamiliar words. If the student still does not get the word after sounding it out, walk them through steps to apply decoding strategies they have learned to figure out the word.
Give students numerous resources and accommodations for success. Some students have better success in reading by simply allowing them to use a paper or card to cover the page so that they can focus on one line at a time. Some need to learn to ask questions and connect with a paragraph or even sentence at a time instead of a page at a time. Taking 5 minutes with each student to ask them how they feel about reading, what the page looks like, and what helps them can make a huge difference.
Creating a safe environment that allows for learning styles and struggles supports students to find ways that really help them. Giving them the right type of instruction for decoding and helping them transfer those skills is a surefire way to set them up for success.