Children don’t come into the world knowing how to decode words or make inferences. They become great readers by learning great reading habits—acquiring different skills that give them the ability to read fluently. Some children acquire these habits when adults read to them, while others only become great at reading with targeted instruction in the classroom.
There are currently 45 million Americans who are functionally illiterate and can’t read beyond fifth-grade level. Readers are leaders, so if you want your students to be the leaders of tomorrow, use these 5 awesome tips to make them great readers.
- Build Great Reading Habits at the Moment of Error
The best time to correct a student is when they get something wrong. If they continue making the same mistake, they will build weaker reading habits. Whenever a student makes a mistake, ask a targeted question, like “How does this section help you understand the story better?” They may have to reread the part again with your guidance to understand it better. When you do this, you transform their mistake into an opportunity for success. You prevent bad reading habits from taking root and replace them with great ones.
- Change How Your Students Talk About Reading
Most teachers think student-driven literary discussions are meant for high school and college students, but this isn’t the case. Student-driven literary discussions don’t take place in elementary classrooms because we don’t think younger readers are capable of participating in them. But just like great reading, great discussions help students build the right habits.
If you intentionally train your students to participate in great discussions, they can have very rich conversations among themselves. And when they direct discussions, they learn quickly and are more capable of making their own conclusions about a text.
- Mix Great Reading with Great Writing
Just like adults, young children use writing to gather their thoughts about a topic and to communicate their ideas to others. When your students use writing to their advantage, they will develop their writing and reading skills at the same time. Before your students have a discussion about what they read, let them answer a focus question in writing. You can write down these questions and have them write down the answers:
- What is the most important lesson you’ve learnt from this story?
- What sections in the story helped you understand the plot better?
- Which are your favorite characters in the story? Why?
After your students are done writing, review their written responses so you can understand what help they will need during the discussion. You can find a reading tutor for students who have difficulty understanding reading material by searching for “reading tutor near me.”
- Use Guided Reading Instructions
Guided reading allows students to practice effective reading strategies.They develop greater control over the reading process by acquiring reading habits that help them decode text and make inferences.
For your students to reach the standards set by the Common Core, you have to increase the rate at which you teach them reading skills. Meet your students where they are through guided reading. Guided reading allows students to master reading skills and gives you a chance to address errors on time. By guiding students as they read, you help them understand complex text and also make sure they learn at the right pace.