Some children, particularly girls, it seems, will begin guessing at the words from Day One. Some of this is due to the fact that Bob Books have pictures. So though they don’t guess when you are writing in the binder, they do begin guessing when they have cues from the drawings.
This is when I very firmly say:
Do not guess. Guessing makes bad readers.
Some students will proceed to ask you why you aren’t sounding words out when you read aloud to them. Are you guessing?
If you are asked this question, you can respond in a way that helps them think, which is to say that you can teach them in the mimetic mode. Something like this:
When you first meet someone, do you recognize their face?
If some stranger came in this room, would you start guessing their name? Fred? Joe? Mark?
Well, today you just met this word. Did you recognize the word?
Do you have a best friend/sister/favorite uncle?
Yes. It is [insert-name-here].
Would you know that person’s face anywhere?
Because I know him! He is my friend!
That’s right! You know him. Well, did you know that adults know the words they read? They are friends with them!
Yes. And someday you will know the words, and they will be your friends, and you will not need to sound them out because you will recognize them just like you recognize your friend’s face.
Do you ever sound anything out?
Of course. Even adults don’t know all the words, and when we meet a new word for the very first time, we have to get to know it, so we sound it out, just like you are doing. But, we have gotten to know more words than you, because we have been reading longer, so we don’t have to use the sounds as often as we did when we were like you and just starting out.
What I love about the mimetic mode is that it takes the idea in your head and actually gives the idea to the child (rather than just the fact).
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