How to help your child when they are stuck on a word

Pause to allow your child time to problem solve. Encourage your child to:

  • look at the pictures
  • back up and reread
  • look at the beginning of the unknown word
  • read the entire sentence putting in the beginning sound for the unknown word (skipping the unknown word and reading on can help give context)
  • guess the unknown word that would make sense in the story

Encourage your child check his/her guess using the following prompts:

Use meaning:

  • Does the word make sense? (e.g., “You said…. does that make sense here in the story?”)

Use language structure:

  • Does the word sound right? (e.g., “Do we talk that way?”, “Can you say it another way?”, “What word(s) would be appropriate?”)

Use visual/graphophonics:

  • Does the word look right? (e.g.,”You said …, if that is right, what letter(s) should we see at the beginning/middle/end?” or “Do you see smaller words/word parts within the bigger word?”)

If the guess is incorrect, pause to allow your child time to self-correct

If no self-correction is attempted, tell your child the correct word using the following prompts,

  • Ask your child, “Could the word could be …?” Discuss how the correct word makes sense, sounds right and looks right.