See also: NIM 2
Introduction: This activity is a great way to enhance and reinforce high-level reading skills in new readers. The proximity and voice of the therapist also provides a safety net that can allow the child the challenge himself and take some risks.
Purpose: To provide multisensory (auditory-speech and visual) reinforcement to the reading process.
Material/Equipment: A new and ability-appropriate book of interest to the child. Try to choose a story that is within the child’s ability, but one that will challenge and engage them; while it is appropriate for the parent/therapist to select reading material, it is highly motivating and empowering to allow children to have a say in what is selected. There should be at least a few new words in each book chosen.
Bookstores often have children’s book sections with ability levels represented by age. Don’t be influenced by the age rating – you should never feel like your child is not reading at an appropriate level based on these ratings. Some parents will even search for books that are labeled for an older reader than their child out of a desire to have the child read at a more advanced level (without necessarily working up to that level). This can be appropriate if the child is ready for it, but a text that too arduous and intimidating can turn a child off of reading. Use the age rating system as a guide and not an absolute scale. If, for example, the child is reading at a Grade 3 level, then work towards Gr 4, and so on. The actual age of the child is irrelevant vis-à-vis reading level, so long as they are moving forward.
This is essentially a strategy for reading to and with a child in close proximity. In general, the goal is to position yourself and the child so that they are leaning backwards towards/into you. They are leaning back into you in such a fashion as you can speak softly into their left then right ears while you both read the same book. You are seated so that you can relax and both look at the book at the same time. The text below describes one such arrangement. You could easily do this side-by-side as well, but remember to change sides occasionally. When speaking, do not whisper, rather, speak in a normal but softer voice than you would usually employ for day-to-day conversation.
1. Sit comfortably on a carpeted floor with your back to the wall. Your child is sitting on your lap, or on the floor between your legs. He is leaning into you and both are holding the same book.
2. Start reading the book in unison. This will feel odd at first, maybe even silly. Acknowledge this, and encourage the child to relax and try to match perfectly the words you say. Start slowly then build a rhythm. You will also have to moderate how you speak, remembering that the goal is to have both you and the child speak at the same time, and NOT have the child speak as YOU do. Make sure this is clear – if they feel they must match your speech, then they will not pay attention to the story and focus more on anticipating your timing.
3. Use your finger as a pointer, unless the child is ready to do this herself. If she cannot point to the words, you should show her how it works, that is, that each word comes in sequence, and that sometimes the punctuation marks make you slow down or stop briefly (periods). Always ask her if she’s ready and have her point at least once per session. Tell her that this is a skill that can take time to develop, so not to worry if she’s unsure, that this is natural.
4. Load it: You set the pace and the child must try to keep up. If he makes a mistake or fumbles, he should keep on going and try to jump in again wherever you are. If he stumbles, slow down a little bit, but don’t stop, and keep on pointing to the words to help along. Read steadily at a slower pace (initially) but then gradually speed up.
5. Load it: Stop every now and then, perhaps every few minutes at first. Ask the child about what he has read. If he cannot answer the questions, allow him to search back through the text to find the answers. As skill increases, increase the time between pauses to 6 to 10 minutes.
6. Continue like this for a set time and try to increase this time at each sitting. Pause only when the voice tires or there are signs of fatigue. Quit before the session becomes a chore or fatigue sets in.
- Be sure to encourage tracking of text with the eyes only.
- Remember to coordinate reading, rather than have them match YOUR speech in 2. above.
- In 4. above, be sure to keep a steady pace even if the child stumbles. Try to not modulate your tone or speed too much from what you normally do.
- Ensure good lighting and a comfortable position. If glasses are required, be sure they are worn.
- When reading, keep a smooth and steady pace.
- Alternate reading in the left then the right ear.