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joyminer
joyminer asks:
Q:

should my first grader still be sounding out words?

Hello,
My child keeps bringing home papers with notes from the teacher, in red,  stating that she is sounding out words. These are not "popcorn or sight" words but new words that are going to be in their reader that week. I'm sure this is going to be the first thing she tells me about my child at the parent/teacher meeting in Oct. I need to know if my child should be sounding words out in first grade? Thanks
In Topics: Helping my child with reading
> 60 days ago

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lravidlearner
lravidlearner , Teacher, Parent writes:
I have read with hundreds of first graders and they virtually all must sound out some words.  This early in the school year, beginning readers read slowly and carefully and look for lots of visual clues from the pictures in their books.  They often must reread a book several times to understand what they are reading because they are so focused on decoding the words.

Reading Rockets has excellent guidelines for parents on what to expect when their young children begin reading:

http://www.readingrockets.org/article/30999

Many school districts conduct diagnostic tests with kindergarteners and first graders to identify potential learning problems with reading.  At the parent/teacher meeting, be sure to ask if any diagnostic testing has been done.  

In preparation for your meeting with the teacher, you can also take a look at Reading Rockets "Target the Problem" to see what potential difficulties exist.  The section on word decoding and phonics may speak to the teacher's concern:

http://www.readingrockets.org/content/helping/target2/target.html

Ask the teacher what her specific concern is.  "Sounding out words" is very typical beginning reader behavior.  Hopefully the teacher can be more specific (e.g., consistently mispronouncing letter patterns, beginning word sounds, ending word sounds, just guessing at words, etc.)

Also ask the teacher what action she has taken or that she proposes to address your daughter's "problem," such as a referral request to a reading specialist.

If you do not reach agreement with her on a plan, after the meeting arrange to talk to the lead teacher, principal or assistant principal about your concerns.

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joyminer
joyminer writes:
Thank you for your response! I checked out that website Reading Rockets and it described my daughter perfectly. I feel much more relaxed now that I read all this is normal progress in the begining of first grade. I know she will master this with practice, practice, practice. Thanks so much for pointing me in the right direction.
> 60 days ago

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LDSolutions
LDSolutions , Child Professional writes:
You WANT your child to sound out the words.  That is called decoding.  By first recognizing that each word is broken down into sounds and then slowly blending those sounds together is exactly what your child should be doing.  Now if your child takes the word "was" and reads "with" or a different word then this is time to be worried.  This means that they are not decoding.  Your child is on the right track to becoming a successful reader!
> 60 days ago

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BruceDeitrickPrice
BruceDeitri... , Teacher writes:
I have to confess finding your letter frightening. The teacher is so draconian, so rigid...but, in my opinion, wrong. Sounding out words has to be what we all do at the start. Phonics means SOUNDS.

I just want to share with you an article that can provide some background on the reading wars. Many so-called experts have been very wrong. See link.

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mrsbower
mrsbower writes:
"Sounding out" strategy is not an effective way to problem-solve an unknown word in text in first grade.  In kindergarten they may have sounded three letter words to teach blending sounds together to make a word. The goal in kindergarten is to get automatic at seeing and saying a three letter word without saying each sound out loud.  In first grade sounding the first letter or letter chunk (like th, sh, etc) would be an acceptable word accuracy strategy to coach your child during at home reading... (but not even 100% of the time will that strategy work because of word origin).  Hopefully, your teacher can share the strategies used in school to read an unknown word. They should include applying phonics rules, looking at the pictures, looking for known letter chunks like word families -am, -an, -ick, -ack, etc. or letter teams like th, sh, ch, wh and then thinking "what word starts like this word that would make sense?" In a nutshell, I think the term "sounding out" is being misinterpreted. It holds a much deeper meaning to trained, effective reading teachers.  I hope this helps... I love teaching first grade:)
27 days ago

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