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Struggling readers generally have difficulties with both elements of the reading process:
1. They are not competent at word recognition.
2. They often fail to make sense of what they are reading.
Improving their word decoding skills will be beneficial, but struggling readers who have to sound out a high proportion of the words in the text are interrupting the flow of fluency upon which comprehension depends. Added to that, they usually read so slowly that what they hear themselves say does not sound like meaningful language. And, of course, many struggling readers adopt their favourite strategy when faced with an unfamiliar word … they wait to be helped by the supporting adult! So, something has to be done to reduce the ‘stop/start’ nature of their reading style which has such an impact on comprehension.
And that’s where Prepared Reading comes in!
Prepared Reading is a teaching technique in which the supporting adult ‘tunes in’ the learner to what the text is about by looking through the book before the learner starts reading independently. This gives the learner the ‘big picture’ of what the text is about. And that’s important because most struggling readers have limited story/text experience. They do not have much sense of narrative and their prediction skills are often shaky. But if the adult regularly shares a brief overview of the text (or part of a text in a longer book) before the learner starts reading, then the learner becomes familiar with how texts work.
But Prepared Reading does more than that …
It also gives the supporting adult the opportunity to introduce any more challenging vocabulary that is specific to that text that the learner might struggle to decode or even understand. Imagine a non-fiction book about lions. The struggling reader might use their decoding skills to tackle ‘cubs’ and ‘Africa’ and even ‘pride’ but they may be flummoxed by ‘territory’ and ‘wildebeest’. Nobody would be surprised that a struggling reader would hesitate over those words. But the adult faces a dilemma – do they …
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