Mrs. Lafreniere and Mrs. Hawkins, Proud Reading Teachers of NSES

Parents have lots of questions surrounding early literacy behaviors, and rightfully so.  Learning to read is complex and varies from individual to individual.  What should I say when my child gets stuck? Should I be worried if he reverses letters in kindergarten?  My child stopped pointing at the words…should she be pointing?

In this post, we are going to quickly learn about when students should point and when we should encourage them to take that finger away.

Pointing serves a purpose in learning to read in the early stages.  Marie Clay, the founder of Reading Recovery, states that when a child first begins to read (beginning of kindergarten), pointing helps readers become more secure with:

  • knowing to start at the top left of the page
  • moving left to right across lines
  • matching words in speech to words in print
  • knowing the first letter of a line
  • locating the first letter of a word

However if pointing is allowed to persist for too long, it becomes a prop that interferes with fluent reading.  Once you notice that your child can read top to bottom, left to right, and match words to print, encourage him or her to take the finger out and “read it with your eyes”, especially on books that are familiar.  The sooner a child gains control over reading without a finger, the faster he or she will become fluent and reading will sound smooth and like talking.

Of course, it can be appropriate to ask your child to point again if you find that:

  • the text is new and difficult
  • he or she is tired
  • when the layout of the text is unusual (ex: words go in a circle)
  • if he or she is making many errors and not monitoring their reading

Ultimately, you have to notice what your child has control over when reading.  Remember pointing should be discouraged after the very early stages of learning to read so your child can begin to look carefully and read fluently from the very beginning.

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