Tutor 2nd Grade Reading

This summer I am reading with an 8 1/2 year old boy.  He considers himself a second grader, even though school is over, because “third graders are allowed to cross the big avenue, and I’m not allowed yet.”  He may have mild dyslexia, since he often reverses the order of letters, but never ‘sees’ words from the line above or below the one he is reading.

We read every weekday. Since the boy lives near me, he asked if we could work on reading in the morning as he waits for his bus to day camp. This way, reading uses up a boring piece of time not available for running around, and does not interfere with playing and biking with friends in the afternoon.  This kid has his priorities down straight. We sit on his front steps, with his swim bag near his feet. Sometimes cars driving past are a distraction, but generally he focuses on the words.

Tutor for Reading in Early Grades

Reading in the first few grades is hard work. Children are learning to read, and English does not always have a logical connection between the letters in a word and the sounds they make. However, by fourth grade, the children start ‘reading to learn’ instead of ‘learning to read.’ This makes it very important to master the reading skills and not lose them over the summer.

Reading Tutor Recommends This Book

Nate the Great is a GREAT choice for summer reading, because everyone seems to be eating pancakes.  How could it possibly be work if you’ve got pancakes all over the place? The reading level on the back says 1.8, so it should be suitable for someone who finished second grade.  On the other hand, the reading level inside the actual book seems a bit higher.  Perhaps more was expected of children in 1977.

Nate the Great
Nate the Great

We alternate reading pages, so it seems less like he is doing all the work and more like an interactive activity. When we’re five pages from the end, I read the all the pages, as a reward for his hard work & because the punchline works better when the words flow smoothly. After all, it is not long ago that his boy expected Mom to read all his books, because reading is something big kids did. Now he’s one of the big kids!  It’s a great feeling.

Strategies for figuring out hard words include

  1.  suggesting that he look at the first letter of the word.
    1. The boy sometimes tries to read the whole word at once.
    2. He jumbles the letters, and can’t figure out where he went wrong.
    3. Forcing him to slow down to one letter at a time lets him figure out the word.
  2.  informing him that two letters are a ‘blend’
    1. For example,  ‘glad’ is not g + l + ad but gl + ad
  3.  informing him that two words are skooshed together
    1. This way, he can figure out that an impossibly long word is simply some + where, both familiar words
  4.  asking him if it is a ‘u’ or an ‘n’, and reminding him that no letter has both sounds at once
  5.  painting out the ‘all’ in middle of a word like ‘called’
  6. Patience. Patience.  More patience.
  7. Did I mention patience?  Not prompting the boy while he’s thinking can be difficult, but hard words need some examination while he figures out the sounds.

The Lost List

The sound of these words are not logically connected to their spelling, and I simply told the 2nd grader what they sound like.

  1. The words “sure” is sounded out like ‘sir.’
    1. Who could guess that in this case, ‘s’ means ‘sh’?
  2. Words like ‘would’ and ‘could’ have internal silent letters.
    1. I pointed to the _ould_ in each of the words
    2. Maybe he’ll remember it after we meet the word fifteen or twenty times
  3. Sludge is a great name for a dog, but what sound does _dge_  make?
    1. After reading it a few times, he started to remember, so yay.
  4. Claude is also a hard word, which just does not stay in the 2nd grader’s mind.
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