Don’t just sound it out when reading
           Parents experience a wide range of emotions when they work with their
emergent readers. When all is going well, it can be exhillarating.  But it doesn’t always go well. There is an almost universal standby to which most parents resort when the child is stumped by a word: “Sound it out.”

          Not all words can be easily sounded out. Here, then, are some strategies that we teachers use:

          * Praise for what he did correctly. Notice out loud to your child when he has read words or entire sentences properly. There are times when he will self-correct after making an error; praise him for this, too.
          * Check the context for the word. Did the word you just read make sense? Does it go with the illustration? Does that word have the letters that go with the word you just said? 
          * Give more time. Wait without saying anything while your child sits there and tries to figure it out. The extra moments you give may be just what he needs to figure it out.
          * Tell the word and go on. Take the time to go through the letters to explain how this word says what it says. Then move on with the story.
          * Reread the sentence, making a substitute sound for the word in question (such as the sound mmm). Then go back and see what would make sense in place of that sound. 
          * Take a look at the word and see if the child can recognize a part of it that appears in other words. For example, if he is stuck on the word clay, isolate the ay, explaining that it is the same ay as in the word day. Then rebuild the word with the other letters you have: first the l in front of ay and then the c in front of lay.

          Most of all, reading together should be a joyous experience. Your child’s making too many errors in one sentence is an indication that the book is too difficult. Therefore, make this a book that you read to him; find another book for him to read to you.

          This column has been incorporated into Teach Your Children Well: A Teacher’s  Advice for Parents

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