Reading for Reading's sake

There are lots of ways this can be achieved but a very simple method I have devised has proven to have great results.  This is a brief summary.  More specific information follows below :

Set a specific time for reading ie 10 minutes so the child does not feel it will be an endless chore.  Stop once the time is up unless the child wishes to continue.

1.  Give the child several seconds to have a go at a difficult word.

2.  Ask them to make the first sound (either letter or two letters that sound   together).

3.  Say the word for them

4.  Write the word down on a separate piece of paper

5.  Continue reading

6.  When finished, ask questions (see below)

7.  Choose 3 or 4 of the words on the paper and sound these out.

1.  When a child gets to a word they do not know, give them a few seconds to try to work it out.....they could be using clues from pictures, the meaning of the text or working out the sounds.  Do not make them sound the word out.

2.  Ask them to make the first sound.
(This might be a single letter or a blend such as br, cl, scr, str  or two letters that make a different sound such as ch,  th,   sh,   ph, wh,  oi,   ai,   aw). This is also a good for “guessers” who randomly put in any word that comes into their head or dyslexics who tend to reverse sounds. They have to LOOK AND LOCK on to the first sound.  (There is more information about this under “Decoding”.)

3 & 4. Say the word for them and write it down on a piece of paper.

5 & 6.  Finish the story and ask questions :

Who were the characters?
Where did the story take place? (The setting)
What happened?
How did it end?
Comprehension skills are extremely important and many children struggle as they climb higher in school because they have been so busy trying to decode and work out words instead of understanding and remembering what they are reading!

Also ask questions that are not directly answered in the text such as :
“what was the weather like?”

In the story it might have stated  “Grandma sat by the fire knitting a scarf” or “she shut her umbrella and wiped her feet before she walked through the door.”

This motivates children to “read between the lines” when something is inferred (deduced from evidence and reasoning) but not actually stated.  Stimulate the child to "think outside the square".  For example, perhaps there was no fire in the fire place and that is just where Grandma always sits.  Discuss the various options and decide on the best possibility that relates to the rest of the text.

These types of comprehension questions become more common as children move through primary school to Secondary school.  The more help they get with this type of thinking,  the better equipped they will be to answer them.


Choose two or three of the words you have written that sound as they are spelt.  Sound them out.  This is known as  "decoding" and various strategies to accomplish this successfully are detailed below.

What to Read
Home readers are set at the child's level of reading ability.  The child is generally regularly tested and as they become more proficient, they move to the next level. Children are expected to reach or pass a specific level for each year of Primary School.  This is known as the "bench mark".    It is therefore important that your child does read the take home books we all know, we enjoy something far more if it is about something we personally like!  Make one night a week a Personal Choice night!  Preferrably at the end of the week as a reward for doing the school reader the other nights.  Anything goes from footy cards to comics, science to geography.

Hopefully your child will now start to enjoy reading and it will no longer be stressful for everyone concerned!

Also refer to the Games section of reading for other ideas to make reading time more fun. 



Decoding words is the ability to convert text into intelligible language.  Some children pick this up easily as they see familiar word patterns and understand sound/symbol  association but many need direct instruction regarding the structure of words (spelling rules and phonics)  to work out the sounds,  especially those of the vowels.  Remember, just because a child is able to decode a word does not necessarily mean they can spell it.

Look and lock :

By "locking" on the first sound, children learn to look at the beginning of the word before working out the rest of it.


* Many children simply guess or drop the first sound altogether  (ie rat becomes at)  This method forces them to focus on the beginning sound as a starting point.  I am always saying "if you guess you will get it wrong almost every time!

*   It helps children with dyslexia who often reverse the order of the letters - saw for was or who for how.

*   Children with hemispheric dominance issues, where their preferred style is to track from right to left,  benefit as they have to start at the left and work to the right which can take a lot of practice for some..


Sound it out

Do this at the child’s level of phonetic capability.
For example
*  a beginner reader might sound out the individual sounds in the word “c...a.....t” as well as some of the digraphs “sh, th, ch”.

*  a more advanced reader should be using phonics knowledge of the sounds letters make when playing together (ee, oo), Big and small vowel sounds because of Bossy e, twin consonants etc and blending the beginning letters such as “cr,  br,  dr,  gl,  scr,  str  etc”.

The most important thing is to ensure that children "blend" the sounds when they sound them out. In other words, don't leave gaps between sounds. Particularly useful for young children just learning to read.

"c"........."o"......."r"......"r"......"e"......"c"......."t"  does not even begin to sound like a word but a whole lot of individual sounds.      Sound it  "correeeeeeeecccct"

Practice with short words first.  Say them slowly, drawing the sounds out and ask the child to say the word.

aaaaammmmmmmmm          What word?    "am"

hhhhhhhheeeeeeeeee           What word?    "he"

This takes a bit of getting used to but is well worth the effort.  To make it easier for a child to understand, play games of saying words and stretching them out for each other to say the word.  This strategy is very good for children who miss sounds in words or add sounds that are not there.   Another game is to write a word in big letters and have the child drive a toy car along a line under them, making the sounds of each letter as the car passes it.  When the child has worked out the word, they get to race along the "road" and say the word quickly.

* If it is a long word, use your finger to cover it up and only show a "chunk" at a time.  This is also very useful when spelling words.  Breaking them down into sound "chunks" and writing each chunk ensuring they have the correct number when finished as a double check that they have not left middle parts out of the word.   Essentially we say pieces of words slowly and then faster to decode and read them but we do the opposite to spell them.........say it and then break it down into pieces to write.

c     ar      d                      be  gin   ner           con   sid   er   a   tion

* Discuss the meaning of the word if it is new to the child.


Drop the s, d or r at the end

This helps to work out the base word and if there is a Bossy e affecting the vowel sound.

s is added for plurals, d is added as part of ed to make a word past tense and er is added to make a word the person or thing that does it (drive - driver).

shaded driver shapes


Common, high frequency words.

If there are everyday words  it is a good idea to write these on a special page on the fridge and have them say them every day.  You can make this a game by crossing off the word once the child has correctly said it 5 times over a period of time.  It is extremely important that children store as many of these words in their procedural memory as possible.  This is the part of the brain that controls our automatic responses.  Hence it makes sense that if a child has lots of “automatic” words,  their reading will slowly and steadily improve.


Keep the lists of crossed off words and have a “challenge” day when the child is asked to say them again.  This is a double check that they really have stored them in their long term memory.

Also use prompts and clues whilst the child is learning the word, especially for those naughty words that do not sound as they are spelt...

“said” – you just gotta get into your head....and it does not have an e!”

"they" is not spelt with an A

There will be more strategies for learning “naughty”  AND common, high frequency words in Games and Activities under Resources in due course. 

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