Five Tips for Coaching First Grade Readers

Parents often ask how they can best support their emerging readers.  Here are some suggestions for before, during, and after reading:

1.  Ask:  "What book are you going to read to me?  What's the title?"

2.  Watch to see if they preview the book.  If not, encourage them to preview and make predictions by asking, “Can we preview the first few pages?  Can we take a picture walk?  What do you think it’s going to be about?”

3.  When they begin reading, watch carefully.  If they get stuck, wait a few seconds before helping.  They are probably thinking through the strategies we’ve taught in class.

4.  If they remain stuck, don’t say “Sound it out.”  First graders need clearer directions.  Try saying these clues from the Word Solvers’ Took Kit instead:

“Get your mouth ready.”  (They should say the beginning sound.)

“Look across the word.”  (They should say the ending sound.)

“Chunk the word.”  (They should look for common chunks, e.g., at, in.)

“Look inside the word for little words.”  (This clue is good for longer words.)

“What other sound can you try?”   (This clue is helpful when they are trying an appropriate but incorrect sound, e.g., a short vowel sound when it should be a long sound or an incorrect consonant sound.)

5.  When they finish reading, help them to talk about the book.  Some things you might ask are:

“Was your prediction about the book right?”

“Who were the main characters?”

“What was the setting?”

“Can you tell me about the beginning, middle, and end of the story?”

“What was the main problem?  How did it get resolved?”

“Does this book remind you of anything?”  (This could be a connection to something in their own lives, another book they’ve read, or something else they know about.)