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Break the “Word Guessing” Habit

Little girl word guessing

Does your child guess at unknown words instead of sounding them out?

The “word guessing” habit can stand in the way of learning to read. In this post, you’ll learn why kids guess and how you can solve the problem.

Why Do Kids Guess?

Kids don’t guess to annoy us or because they’re lazy; they may simply be using the process that seems most logical or intuitive to them.

Some kids guess because they have been taught to guess. Believe it or not, guessing is taught as a reading strategy in many schools, so previous teachers may have encouraged a student to look at the pictures or use context clues to see if he could figure out what the unknown word was.

Guessing is common among children who have been taught with the whole word or sight word method. They are accustomed to looking at the beginning letters and shapes of the words instead of paying attention to each phonogram in the word.

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

The 4 Types of Word Guessers

What type of guesser is your child?

  1. “First Letter” Guesser: This child looks at the first letter and guesses what the word is. For example, if the word is heart, the child looks at the H and says horse.
  2. “Word Shape” Guesser: This child looks at the first and last letters of the word and at the basic shape in the middle of the word, and takes a wild guess. For example, if the word is maple, the child says maybe. Both words begin with M and end with E, and the words have a similar shape in the middle.
  3. “Picture Clue” Guesser: This child looks at the pictures to help him guess the word. For example, the child may come across a sentence like The scary dog barked at the cat. The child doesn’t know the word scary, so he looks at the picture of the angry-looking dog and guesses the word angry.
  4. “Context Clue” Guesser: This child uses context clues to guess the missing word. For example, the child may come across a sentence like The farmer bought grain for his cattle. The child doesn’t know the word cattle, but the first letter is C, and based on the context she guesses the word chickens.

What’s the Solution for Word Guessing?

The All About Reading blending procedure is the best solution that I have found for word guessing.

I’m a strong believer in figuring out the simplest solution for solving reading problems, including word guessing. The method I’m about to share with you is highly effective, and it has worked for every child I’ve used it with. This free download provides an illustrated summary of the blending technique.

word guessing graphic showing the blending procedure download

Here are the basic steps:

With this method, your child will develop the good habit of looking at each phonogram, starting at the beginning of the word, and then progressing through each phonogram in sequence. It won’t take long before your student will transfer this blending skill to printed words and you won’t need the letter tiles.

Practice this blending procedure for a few minutes a day, five days a week, and soon you’ll be able to say adios to the word guessing habit!

Do you have a child who is a word guesser, or did you manage to escape this bad habit?

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Jess

says:

Thank you for providing all of these great resources on your website. I can’t wait to get started with All About Redaing!

jan

says:

Thank you so much for this advice. I need the help :)

Sophia

says:

My 10 yr old granddaughter seems to have the reverse problem. She loves to read to herself and out loud to her younger siblings. Her reading is far above her level. Why then does she have difficulty with spelling? She can read any word without hesitation, including words she has never seen before. But if you ask her to spell words she is familiar with, she often stumbles. Spelling rules do not seem to work for her. I am baffled as to how to help her. She is a creative and imaginative child who absolutely loves creative writing. We just completed level 5 spelling.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sophia,
What you describe is somewhat common, actually. Being able to read words easily does not always translate to being able to spell them easily. Check out our Why We Teach Reading and Spelling Separately blog post for a list of words that most adults can read very easily but very few adults can spell correctly without help (I know I can’t!).

I’d love to help you more with how your daughter is struggling still with spelling. It may be that she needs more review than scheduled in All About Spelling, or it may be that she needs to move slower through the levels. My daughter ended up repeating All About Spelling level 5 all over again because she just wasn’t mastering the words and she needed more review of previous level concepts as well. For example, she wrote “popie seeds” (meaning poppy seeds) on the grocery list. I made a note and for the next spelling lesson we spent a fair amount of time reviewing why we double consonants and how to spell the long E sound at the end of two-syllable words. Then I put words that use these concepts (the word poppy and others) into her review section to practice them. This idea of using misspellings elsewhere as subjects of review in your spelling lessons comes from our blog post How to Handle Spelling Mistakes.

Please let me know what kind of spelling errors you are seeing, when, does she spot her own errors when she self-edits her writing, and so on. How often do you work on All About Spelling and how long do you spend on each step? How does she do with the dictation sentences and writing station assignments in each step?

If you prefer, we can take this discussion to email at support@allaboutlearningpress.com.

Jo-an

says:

How do deal with an 11-year old who has had thorough phonics instruction for remediation of poor reading strategies developed in early years but still guesses at multi-syllable words? Have tried lots of strategies but she reverrts to guessing too frequently. Has mild dyslexia. When she makes an effort, she is quite accurate.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jo-an,
It sounds like your 11-year-old has a deeply ingrained word guessing habit. So deeply ingrained that even though she is successful at sounding words out, she doesn’t even try. It can be difficult to break habits that are so firmly rooted, but it is possible. However, it will take time.

Have her read aloud to you for approximately 20 minutes a day every day. When she reads aloud to you, stop her immediately when she guesses at a word. Have her sound it out and then have her reread the entire sentence. However, if at any time she doesn’t guess but goes first to sounding out, don’t require her to reread the entire sentence. But do praise her for not guessing!

After a week or two of this, stop interrupting her mid-sentence when she guesses at a word and start waiting until the end of the sentence. Then say, “Wait. What you just read didn’t make sense.” Have her reread the sentence, looking closely at each word. Hopefully she will not guess again but will sound the word out and read the sentence correctly. The goal is to get her thinking about meaning as she reads and noticing when what she reads doesn’t make sense. But if she rereads the sentence again with guessing, point to the troublesome word and have her sound it out and then reread the sentence.

Continue to have her read aloud to you for 20 minutes a day 5 days a week until her guessing is gone and then continue for a while after that to make sure it is gone. Occasionally after that, have her read aloud to ensure it has stayed gone.

You may also consider working with her in All About Spelling. All About Spelling works extensively on syllable division rules and can help make sounding out multisyllable words quicker and easier. And since it is spelling work, it doesn’t feel like repeating all she has learned in reading. My fourth child had a lot of problems with word guessing at about your daughter’s age, and the mix of reading aloud to me and using All About Spelling helped him to conquer that habit.

I hope this helps, but please let me know if you need more information or have questions. Also, I’d love to hear how things are going after the first couple of weeks.

Jo-an

says:

Thank you so very much. We will try these strategies in September. I will let you know how it goes.

Renee

says:

OOPS!! I just read my comment and realized I misstated one thing – his guessing has remained the same.

Renee

says:

I am tutoring a fourth grade boy who is ADD. Rather than sound out a word with which he is not immediately familiar, he just guesses. I have been working with him for three years and even though his vocabulary has increased, the guessing has not. His retention/comprehension is poor. The only goal he has is to get to the end. He knows he does this. He knows I’m going to make him go back and figure out the word. At least 90% of the time he does get the word correct when I force him. I’ve tried just about every method I can think of and nothing has worked. I firmly believe he could read better and as a result, improve his comprehension if he would just stop guessing (and use the word skills he has)! Any ideas???

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Renee,
How frustrating for both of you!

How often do you tutor this boy? If you see him only once or twice a week, that may not be often enough to overcome his ingrained habit of word guessing. If someone could sit with him while he reads aloud for 20 minutes a day, each day, and requires him to use the skills he has learned to sound out unfamiliar words and won’t allow him to guess, well that may help him break the habit.

You could also make an agreement with him. If he reads a passage with no word guessing at all, you will stop his reading aloud after 10 minutes (or whatever time will motivate him) and do an activity enjoys. If he guesses, he has to keep reading for 20 minutes (or whatever time you usually do) and there won’t be time for this favorite activity. Make it impossible for him to not notice that not guessing the first time is the best option to take.

Next week, when my co-worker Merry returns from holiday, I’m going to ask for her thoughts on this as well.

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Renee! I agree with Robin’s thoughts, I would definitely see if there’s any way he can read to someone daily if he isn’t already, and try an incentive to encourage him. A few other possibilities:

When he makes a mistake, do you tell him which word? If so, try asking, “Did that sentence make sense?” Sometimes that prompt will get a child thinking about the meaning of what he or she read and they can then reread and identify what was wrong.

Sometimes kids struggle with guessing because they are trying to read too quickly. Check out 10 Solutions for Kids Who Read Too Fast. Some of those tips might help. https://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/child-reads-too-fast/

You could also try occasionally shifting the focus to reading with expression. Let him re-read a short passage he has read previously. Reading with expression is a great way to get a student to slow down and focus on the meaning–and that might help him avoid the word-guessing too. He might be encouraged by doing something well, and shifting the focus off of “mistakes” and on to “expression” might help him break out of the rut he’s in. This Fun with Emojis article can be a great way to practice sentences with expression: https://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/fun-with-emojis/

I wasn’t sure from your note if he’s using All About Reading or if you are using his school books for your tutoring time with him. If the latter, it’s likely that the reading level is too difficult for him. I would try a systematic approach that will directly teach word-attack skills and fill in the gaps for him; otherwise, he will likely always feel that reading is too difficult. If he has already completed all levels of All About Reading, you could try scanning the page and pulling out words you think he’s likely to struggle with, and use them for a review lesson. Write them one at a time on a board and ask him to divide the word into syllables, ask about jobs or silent E or have him identify any prefixes or suffixes–talk through the various word-attack skills for that word and have him tell you what he can. Then you can fill in any details he forgets. By pre-teaching some of the words, it will be like using the “warm-up” pages from All About Reading and he’ll be more successful with the page.

I hope this helps some! Feel free to email me at support@allaboutlearningpress.com if you want to talk more in depth.

Chelle

says:

Great information. Thank you.

Kylie

says:

My child just doesn’t blend. She says /m/ /a/ /t/, sam. If I say /m/ /a/ /t/, /ma/ /t/ /mat/ she says, I was going to say that. I think it’s just readiness but it’s driving me nuts.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Kylie,
This sort of thing is common enough that we made a comic about it. It is featured in our Helping Kids Sound Out Words blog post and I think you will find that blog post helpful.

Children that struggle blending may be struggling because they aren’t strong in phonological awareness skills. Phonological awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate the individual sounds of language, and children that aren’t strong in phonological awareness can struggle greatly with blending sounds into words.

Many children will develop phonological awareness skills on their own, but other children need to be explicitly taught how to hear and manipulate the sounds. If your child isn’t strong in this area, spend time building up her phonological awareness skills. Our Pre-reading level also works on phonological awareness, with a fun activity in every lesson planned for you.

On the other hand, if your daughter does well with phonological awareness, then try this:

Model the blending procedure for your child, going through the entire thing while she watches. Be sure to stress the cumulative blending, when you blend the first two sounds before adding the third. Our blog post, Helping Kids Sound Out Words, details the blending procedure thoroughly.

Then, after you go through the entire procedure with her watching, have her try it with the exact same word. Once she can do it with the same word fairly easily, try changing just the last letter and see if she can do it. If she cannot, model it completely for her and then have her do it. She may need you to model it for her for every word for several days in a row before she has success. If she cannot get it on any given day, go back to a word you have already done, model it again, and then have her do it. Then end the day’s lesson. That way you are ending on a little success.

I hope this helps. Please let me know how it goes, or if you have any further questions.

Tamika

says:

Thank you so much

Gayle

says:

There are 3 different ways to teach beginning blending of a CVC word. I let each student choose the best fit for them. The above method is great for beginners, but some children don’t need to touch every letter and say each sound. After my K students learn the basic sound of each alphabet letter, I begin to teach them vowel and consonant combinations. Some children are ready and some are not. Students are encouraged to use the best method that works for them. The direct and systematic teaching of vowel sounds and consonants should come first before learning how to blend.

1. Method one-Use the above method- good for beginners who need it. (p-a-t ) repeat and listen for the word
2. Method two- slide the first consonant and the vowel together and then say the ending consonant. (pa- t) repeat and listen for the word
3. Method three- Say the first consonant sound and then add the “word family” combination. (p-at) repeat and listen for the word.

Laura Figueroa

says:

Thank you! Great information!

Kate Gladstone

says:

What is your position on handwriting?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Kate,
Handwriting is important even in this age of technology. Because everyone has different needs and approaches to handwriting instruction, we do not recommend specific programs to our customers.

Rebeccah

says:

It the best

ayahqq

says:

Thanks For sharing this Superb article.I use this Article to show my assignment in college.it is useful For me Great Work.

Thank you. Very helpful.
I tutor kids with dyslexia and most I say, the guessing habit is inevitable.
Thank you for the help.

Merry

says: Customer Service

Yes, it can be a hard habit for kids with dyslexia to overcome, but with time and consistency they really can, and that’s when they really start to see reading success!

BBryant

says:

I just recently started homeschooling a boy and girl twins 11 yrs old. My daughter has always been fluent in reading as she is also the baby of the twins while her brother has been struggling for years now. Now that I am home and working with him one on one this information on the site and comments from others is a sure fire way to get him on the road to be a confident reader! I am glad I stayed up all night as it seems I have found many important steps I can start with him. Getting him on track is so important this site is my saving grace. I just know it!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad to know that the information on this site has been so helpful to you. Please let me know if you have any questions or need anything as you help your son succeed.

Mari Jones

says:

This is the procedure I’ve also used for many years and it’s very effective! I really like how you laid out the directions. Context and picture clues are a good reading strategies as long as it’s not the only strategy being used, because that’s what good readers do. For example, you might not know the word “home” but the picture gives you a clue and the context in the sentence does too. I encourage readers to use those clues and then blend or segment and blend, etc. using other reading strategies to successfullly decode the word. I do agree that just pure guessing is without follow-up is not helpful for developing good readers.

Heather Doolittle

says:

If a student can decode a word there is no need to guess or use other clues. If they follow up a guess by segmenting and then blending, it probably is better to just go to segmenting and blending in the first place. Using context to figure out a word is useful when the decoding will not provide enough information such as is it wind or wind? Well with some context, is it wind the clock or the wind will blow? Context can help figure out the meaning of a word. Generally, guessing based on pictures and context are not good strategies for reading/decoding a word. Guessing with no decoding or attention to the sounds can actually work against getting a word into memory for later, instant recall. David Kilpatrick in Essentials of Assessing, Preventing, and Overcoming Reading Difficulties. (page 39- well actually, there are whole chapters that explain why) He also explains that is has been proven that it is the weak readers who use context and picture clues to read. Decoding and encoding sound by sound is actually part of the process which produces fluent recall of the word.

Rebeccah

says:

Yes you are right

Sandi L.

says:

Hi! :) My older son, age 9.5, guesses at words. We are on level 3 and we are almost done. He mostly guesses at words in the middle of a story lesson. For the sake of the story flow I have been allowing him to “slide by” without correcting him. Now I see I shouldn’t have done this as I think I am starting to create a bad habit. I am curious how to handle word guessing when it is in the middle of a story? Do I stop him from reading the story and pull out the word tiles and build the word? He guesses at a word at least a couple times on every page. Maybe every other sentence he is guessing at least at one word. I am afraid this will discourage him a lot to see how much he has to stop and build the words in tiles. But is this the best way to handle it? I am guessing once he starts building words in the tiles maybe his guessing will decrease?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sandi,
Guessing is a habit that many children fall into when they start to read fluently and smoothly. They see how easy reading is when you just know the words, so they attempt to “know” words they don’t really know. What you need to do is encourage him to continue to read fluently and smoothly when he does know the words, but to be willing to slow down and sound words out when he doesn’t know them so well.

Let your son know that he has been misreading words in the middle of stories and you haven’t been saying anything. But now you will be saying something because it is important for him to read each word correctly.

When he misreads a word, wait until the end of the sentence. Then let him know, “You read a word wrong. Try that sentence again.” If what he read didn’t make sense in the sentence, point that out. You want him to start to check his own reading by noticing when a word doesn’t make sense in context. If he ever self-corrects a misread word before you point it out, praise him! We all misread words at times but knowing when we have done it is such an important skill.

Don’t pull out the tiles when you ask him to reread the sentence; just have him reread it in the story. He will likely be able to read the word correctly on the second attempt at the sentence. However, if he still misreads the word, ask him to sound out just that word. Only if he still has trouble would you need to pull out the tiles. Once he reads the word correctly, then have him reread the sentence and then continue with the story.

Keep a note of the words he guessed out, even if he is able to read them easily the second time. Review them with the tiles after the story or the next day.

I think you will find that once you start doing this that he will start reading more carefully and guessing less. This will serve him well as he transitions to reading for learning and content, as word guessing even just a few words per page can have a negative effect on comprehension.

I hope this helps, but please let me know if you have more questions. I’d love to hear how it goes over the next few stories!

Lisa Recker

says:

Thank you! This helped me know how to handle a smooth fluent reader on level 3. My daughter is 7 and a great reader. We have been using All lAbout Reading and Spelling. It’s been great! I just noticed she guesses some easy and some new words.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Glad this is helpful for you, Lisa! Let me know if you have any questions. I’d love to hear how it goes after a while.

Sandi L.

says:

Thanks! Yes this helps! I actually tried that. I asked him to reread the word. The ones that he couldn’t sound out, I started making a list of those words. He caught on very quickly that all of the words I put on my list we were going to have to review later with tiles. ha ha…. After that he tried real hard and would start catching himself and slowing down in order to sound out word, just so he wouldn’t have to read that word later. :) So thank you. Building the words with tiles does help a lot though because he can see what the vowel teams are and he can read it faster.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Glad to help, Sandi. It sounds like you were on the right track already.

Yes, the tiles make reading words easier because each tile represents one sound and the color-coding makes it simple to know vowels and such. However, the goal is to have students be able to read that easily and correctly on paper and he is ready to transition to that being the focus.

Pam barrett

says:

My 5yr old son has been taught to guessing from the starting letter. They also teach sight words. As a learner support personal i find this very frustrating, not only does it hold the student back from reading it also effects their self esteem. I have also used All About REading levels 2 and 3 and currently working on level 4 with my 8 year old son. He has improved 100% in such a short time. I am very slowly going through level 1 with my 5yr old, its still very hard as he always goes back to how he is taught at home. I will continue to push on.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Pam,
Yes, it can be so frustrating with students are taught and encouraged to guess at words as a reading strategy. It makes reading so much more difficult to learn and many children are left with the idea that English makes no sense at all since you have to guess at every word. And it can be difficult to break the word guessing habit once it is started.

Do continue to push on, as you said. Your 5-year-old will get it.

Anna Galoustian

says:

Marie, thank you for your blogs! In most cases I am successfully using your techniques with 5 grader son to close gaps in reading. Related to this blog I can not figure out if below would fall into one of 4 types or kid is not a guesser. Regardless of the word, as long as first 3 letters are spelled, the whole word is read correctly no matter how complex word is and whether he knows it or not, but I am not sure if Serge is guessing or reading the rest of the word. I know he was not tought proper word breaking techniques in school. When he does not read/spell 3 first letters, he is stuck and can not read the word at all…

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

This is interesting, Anna!

I’m inclined to think this is not guessing. I’ve seen many word guesses that were correct for the first three or four letters but still ended up with the wrong word, such as reading “intersecting” when the word is “interesting”. Rather, I suspect once your son gets started reading the word correctly that his mind is working faster than he can orally sound out so he is actually reading the word but it’s happening so quickly it looks like a partial guess.

To ensure he has the skills to sound out unfamiliar words, occasionally ask him to sound a word completely. But when he is reading a story or in context, allow him to just keep reading as long as he is reading correctly.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have more questions.

Louise O'Neil

says:

If I am jumping in late with my 12-year-old, who I think does all of the above, lol, but she can read the easier 2-syllable words, how do I start? Do I have her go through the word blending procedure even with words she can already read just to teach her the procedure?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

That is a very good question, Louise.

Go ahead and work on the blending procedure with words she guesses at and misreads. There is a good chance that once she starts to sound it out, or once you start to show her how to sound it out, she will suddenly know it and then get it. But still have her, or at least show her, how to sound the word entirely just for the practice.

However, if she doesn’t guess at a word but starts to sound it out and then gets the word before finishing, allow that. You want to break the word guessing habit and encourage the habit of sounding out words she does not immediately know.

You may also consider working on All About Spelling with your daughter as the skills learned to spell words there can help with sounding out unfamiliar words in reading. My 3rd son like to tell me that he used spelling in reading all the time and it took me a while to figure out what he meant.

I hope this helps, but let me know if you have more questions or need more help. I’d love to hear how things go over the next few weeks.

Louise ONeil

says:

Thanks, that helps! I was actually considering AAS for that reason!

Kris Miville

says:

Wow, I never realized this was an actual thing. My 7 year old daughter guesses words all the time. She looks at the first letter and just comes up with a word. I purchased this program because my daughter was diagnosed with Dyslexia and ADHD. So, school and school work is a giant challenge for her. Reading and Spelling especially. She is very behind and her short attention span does not help at all. Her being my first child and never being around children before her, it has been a huge struggle for me. It has been a long time since I’ve been in school, so I wanted to find a program that frankly, reintroduced ME to the reading fundamentals and rules so I could properly show her at home. I personally love reading. Read most every night, but it comes natural to me, so now that I have a child, I actually need to understand why certain letters make certain sounds. We haven’t begun yet, but my fingers are crossed. It has been a struggle not knowing if it’s her lack of wanting to put effort into the work because she’d rather be bouncing around or if it’s the dyslexia or ADHD. OR even her extremely strong willed personality that causes fights nightly with getting her to want to read or do her reading homework (although everything with her is a battle, from sunrise to sundown). The teacher manual is so wonderful and is written very precise and clear step by step instructions. I just get so overwhelmed when looking online for ideas on how to get my daughter, Ripley, to WANT and ENJOY reading. There are so many options and ideas, that I stopped looking because my brain would be so overwhelmed with other mothers ideas, that I’d shut down because I didn’t even know where to begin or where to start. Your program has it all. Just one big bundle and multiple print out activities for her to do. She will stay focused more if we make things more into a game. And all the articles. It’s a breath of fresh air seeing questions I’ve had being answered. I’m not around many other parents so advice is hard to come by and the internet gets too overwhelming. I sure hope this will help smooth over her reading and eventually her spelling. She is a very bright child and everyone around her says so, just school and subjects aren’t showing what she is really capable of. Thank you for this!!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Kris,
As a mother that has taught a couple of struggling learners, I completely understand! It can be so overwhelming, frustrating, and discouraging. But it can be done. My struggling learners are older now (16 and 12) and they read well and enjoy reading. You can help your daughter to be successful with reading too!

Sadly, many schools and teachers not only encourage word guessing, but they actually teach it as a reading strategy. But it isn’t an effective strategy. Teaching children phonograms and the patterns and organization of English works better.

Short attention spans are pretty normal with little kids, but when children are struggling they are working even harder than other children and so they tire even quicker. But that’s okay, as progress is made in the day-in-day-out consistency more than in long lesson times. We recommend just 20 minutes a day of reading instruction.

As you begin and as you progress, please know that we are available for any questions, concerns, or comments you may have. You can contact us here, through our Facebook page, by email at support@allaboutlearningpress.com, and by phone at 715-477-1976. I, and my co-workers, want to help you help your daughter succeed in reading and spelling!

Jmarie

says:

A quick comment on 1877 / 1789 parent: DIRECTIONALITY. Going from left to right seems so obvious to us, but to a child’s eyes it is a learned behavior. This is the reason to run one’s finger under a line; it coaxes and trains the eyes to start at the left and always glide to the right. (It looks hokey. But it’s brilliant.)
There are left/right exercises you can get from a vision therapist… a child who isn’t super strong in directionality picks up clues from within a word or number and bops back and forth to construct a match from their knowledge. Picture-languages like Chinese allow for this kind of scanning. English? Left to right to read and write.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for this, Jmarie. It is so true. Prior to learning letters and numbers, directionality doesn’t matter in a child’s world. A chair is a chair no matter which way it is turned. Left to right must be learned and it can take time.

Corey

says:

Hello! My son is probably a “word shape” guesser. We are using AAR Level 1 and he does great with the letter tiles. But when he is reading from the flash cards or the book he tends to overlook the vowel. He will say “bug” when the word is “big” for example. Then if I tell him it’s wrong he just panic guesses, “bug, beg, bog, big, bed” until I can settle him down to focus. We have only been using the word tiles when he learns a new letter (we’re onto consonant teams now) so maybe I’ll bring them back out more often. We’re also going to try the “touch the vowel” tip next time. Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Corey. I know the “touch the vowel” tip does work, as I used it a lot with my youngest child. Pulling out the tiles whenever he starts guessing is helpful as well.

I’d love to hear how your son does after a few weeks of using these tips. Let me know if you have any questions.

Donald Errol Knight

says:

Extremely helpful.

Tina

says:

Thank you

Christine

says:

I am so grateful to have found this blog while searching for information on why my son misreads words. I have been so confused and concerned that he constantly reads a different word than what is on the page. He sounds like a word shape guesser. He is in 5th grade and knows the words he is reading. He just says a different word as if he’s not really looking at the word entirely. He even guesses while reading a dialogue such as “said Jack” he will say “Jack said” or even “Annie said” when it was Jack. He may have a different issue because he does the same thing with numbers. As an example, while reading History, he will read 1789 when the date actually reads 1877. Does this make sense? Or does it sound like a different issue? It seems to me that he is not interested in the date so much and just wants to continue reading.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Interesting, Christine.

My first question is if you have had his vision checked recently. There is a chance he is misreading things like dates because he is having difficulty seeing the difference between them.

However, it could be as you say, that he is in a bit of a hurry and just wants to keep reading. The problem, however, is that doing this can cause problems with comprehension. 1877 to 1789 is a huge difference! On the other hand, it could be that he is comprehending fine, but it is his mouth that is getting tripped up when he reads aloud. This happens to me sometimes. I’ll see that the date is 1815 but I’ll say 1915 or something. I understand it was a hundred years earlier than I said, but anyone listening wouldn’t know that.

Consider having him read aloud to you for about 20 minutes a day. When he reads aloud, require him to read at a steady, not-too-fast pace and to read the words just as they are written. If he makes a mistake like you have described, wait until he finishes the sentence to give him a chance to self-correct. If he doesn’t correct his error, then ask him to reread the sentence. Usually that is all that is needed to get a child to slow down enough to read the passage correctly. However, if he still misreads it, point to the word or phrase he misread and have him reread it very slowly exactly as it is written. Then have him read the full sentence again.

You can discuss with him the importance of reading carefully, especially with things like history. You could even use his history reading for your 20 minutes of reading aloud each day. Let me know how it goes over the first week or so. Often within a few days of having a child read aloud to you like this you will notice improvement or you will notice that he has different difficulties that need addressing.

Cher

says:

My son was guessing a lot. I did a couple of things that helped. I started using nonsense words that are similar to the target word. I also flip tiles over so that he has to wait to for th word to be revieled one letter tile at a time. Once he has blended the first two letter tiles I flip the third, he blends those then I flip the 4th. It makes the process a little more fun and has really helped cut down on the guessing

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

These are great ways to work on blending and minimize word guessing, Cher! Thank you for sharing them.

Becky

says:

My daughter is a #4 guesser! I think she does it because she’s in too much of a hurry to actually sound out the unfamiliar word. When she does that I usually make her stop and sound it out. Most of the time she stubbornly insists that it IS the word she thinks it is despite the fact that I told her it wasn’t. Sometimes I have to go so far as to spell it out with the letter tiles so she can physically split the syllable and she’ll usually get it at that point. She’s 10 so she’s a bit behind her peers, but she has made so much progress with AAR especially in the last year or so!

Betsy

says:

I will be forever grateful for this reading program. I recommend it every chance I get! I am amazed at how well my kids can read because do using it!!!! Thank you!!!

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