Helping someone learn to read? Do you know the five finger rule?

Posted on August 21st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart in Teacher Resources


If you are helping a child learn to read, this simple procedure might be the easiest way to decide if the chapter book your child is reading is ‘right’ for his or her reading level….

Ask your child to read a page aloud. Each time he struggles with a word, he should raise one finger. If he raises five or more fingers per page, the book is too difficult. However, if he raises fewer than five fingers, the book is probably a good choice.

Ideally, we would like our children to choose books the same way Goldilocks would; we’d like them to select books that are ‘just right’ rather than ‘too difficult’ or ‘too easy.’ Having said that, ‘easy’ can be relaxing – a bit like browsing through a magazine – something we all enjoy doing from time to time.

Remember, if a chapter book is too difficult for your child to read independently, it might be perfect for you to read aloud to your child.

When your child gets stuck on an unfamiliar word, here are some strategies we’d like her to use…

 Begin by using the first letter(s) as a clue, then move further into the unfamiliar word. Try to “sound out” the word and then blend the sounds together.
 Look at the pictures for clues. Especially in books for early readers, the pictures are intended to help tell the story.
 Look at the “chunks” within the unfamiliar word. Perhaps part of the word is known and can act as a clue.
 Consider what is happening in the story and what decide what might make sense.
 Go back and read the sentence (or even the paragraph) from the beginning. Think about the story and what decide what might fit.
 Listen to the words and decide if they sound ‘right.’

If you are helping someone learn to read, you may also be interested to visit our Beginning to Read page

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