In this video, Ian uses picture cues to figure out words he is unsure of. I love the light in Ian’s eye and smile on his face when he figures out the word “dog”. It was challenging to get a clip of a child using a straight picture cue strategy. One reason is because we often need to use several strategies at once when we read unfamiliar words. Using the picture to help figure out the word can be enormously helpful, but the second strategy must always be to check your guess. You do this by looking to see if the letters match your guess. The different cues work in conjunction with one another, and it is this dance of strategies that makes a competent and confident reader. If a child makes a guess from the picture and does not check the letters of the word, it is not helping them to learn the word. As well, the picture cue is a beginning reader strategy, a scaffold that helps the new reader to move towards independence. Eventually, there won’t be pictures to support their reading; there will only be words.
These strategies do not all happen naturally, and that is what makes a reading “conference” with an adult so powerful. A reading conference is when an experienced reader (usually an adult) reads with a less experienced reader. The intention is to support the less experienced reader to try out new strategies that will help them grow as a reader. You may have noticed that Shanon verbalized the strategies they were using when Ian could not. This kind of guidance, over many conferences, will help Ian to internalize these strategies. Eventually, he will be able to use them independently without even realizing he is doing it. This process is akin to an athlete learning their sport. Initially, they have to be very conscious of how they move their arms and legs, etc, and the coach is there to support how they do that to get better at the sport. Eventually, the athlete won’t have to think about all the movements, as it becomes automatic and they play better and better.
You can learn more about successful reading strategies for your little reader by visiting our Parents Resources Page.