Guided Reading

A few years ago, I took a woodworking class. I didn’t know much about powerful woodworking tools. My husband is excellent at woodworking, so I thought if I learned more about woodworking, it might be something we could do together.

The instructor showed me how to use the equipment. When he finished showing me, I didn’t want him to leave. I wanted him to stay right there. Be by my side. I had a lot of anxiety and fear about using the big equipment. The big saws. The planers. I didn’t feel comfortable doing it by myself.

When you are providing guided reading instruction, you are right there with the child, guiding the reading. Or perhaps, the child isn’t reading, you’re reading, but you are guiding their development of language or thinking.

You are there to answer questions. When you look at the research on children that learn to read at an early age, research suggests that someone in their home or environment was there to answer questions. Research also suggests that a lot of books were available to the children.

When my children were growing up we had books everywhere. We still do. There were books or something to read on the kitchen table, in their bedrooms, in the living room, and in the family room. I had stacks of books about everywhere I would sit.

So, have a lot of children's books available. Allow your child to select what she is interested in. You will have times when you just sit and watch, and whether you are reading or the child is reading, you will be right there guiding the process.

Think about asking pre-reading questions, something you do before you read. Pre-reading questions can help activate a child’s background knowledge. Think about the models of reading and how background knowledge does affect comprehension.

Concerning the levels of language, when you are reading, when you are providing guidance, is your focus on the lower levels of language, on phonology, and the letters and sounds? Are you requiring the child to read every word correctly, which you do not need to do, and many times probably should not.

Or are you focusing on the structure of text? Of course, comprehension should always be the focus, but to focus on comprehension, the levels of phonology, if the child is reading, need to be close to that of automaticity, otherwise some of that energy is going to be focused on trying to figure out what some of the words are, which takes away from the focus and energy needed to comprehend the text.

Just keep in mind that understanding the text is the goal. You are there to provide assistance, at whatever level of language the child needs, and at whatever level of thinking.

Remember the levels of thinking, which are literal, inferential, and applied. Keep these levels of thinking in mind when you introduce the text or talk about it while you are reading it, or after you have finished reading when you are asking questions and discussing it.

When the child is retelling the text to you, notice what the child remembers or what has seemed important.

Consider using leveled readers. Leveled readers are sometimes referred to as guided readers. These leveled readers are put together with the pictures and text at different levels of interest, different levels of language, and different levels or reading.

Leveled readers are good to use for guiding children in developing their reading and language ability. Leveled readers are good for teaching English as a second language. Remember, the value of guided reading is having someone who can guide the child through the process of understanding the text.

So again, enjoy reading with a child. Make it a wonderful experience that you will both want to repeat.