Saturday, November 14, 2020

Figuring out words vs guessing

Some kids guess because they don’t know what else to do. They haven’t been taught phonics or strategies for breaking down multi-syllabic words.

They may not have been taught to rote memorise the Dolch Words as I have done in my lessons. Rote memorisation of Dolch words is an excellent supplement to phonics instruction. Rote memory of Dolch words increases a kid’s familiarity of high frequency words which he will encounter in every book he reads.


There are many methods to teach kids the Dolch words. I find that the most effective way is to spell out the word using letter names and then saying the word spelt. Let him repeat this a few times and he will not only be able to read by sight but will be able to spell the word as well. Read my post on Dolch words here.

We apply our knowledge of letter-sound relationships to correctly pronounce written words. Understanding these relationships gives the kids the ability to figure out the words they haven’t seen before.

When your child gets stuck on words when reading, help him to figure out the words.

When your child is trying to sound out a word ask him to look at all the letters in the word and not just the first one or two letters.

When you teach your child to read, say each sound in the word slowly as demonstrated in my first lesson – c…a…t and then say the word cat. This process is called blending.

I have now taught many word families and as suggested earlier, you may teach your child/student more word families. However, I believe that that will not be necessary as by the end of lesson 30 almost all students will be able to figure out unfamiliar words.

When your child /student comes across an unfamiliar word ask him to figure it out as I have suggested in my notes to my lessons.

He should be encouraged to figure out the unfamiliar words. Some may call this guessing but all my students were able to read well using this method.

Here are a few examples.

If your child comes across the word scrap, ask him to sound out ‘ap’ which he knows from lesson 3.

Then from there he will be able to figure out > rap > crap> scrap. This is simply because he knows the individual sounds represented by the consonants r, c and s.

Another example: brand

He knows the sound represented by ‘an’ from lesson 2.

an > and > rand > brand.

In this way your child/student will be able to figure out thousands of unfamiliar words.

We will learn more on how to figure out words in this way in later lessons that will be uploaded.

Please share my lessons on YouTube with all your contacts so that together we may be able to reduce illiteracy.

Donations to continue my work and reach out to more students will be appreciated.

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