“Guided reading” is a phrase you may be familiar with. Maybe you have heard your child’s teacher use it. Maybe your child has even told you about her “guided reading” group at school. It may sound like some fancy way to read, but it’s actually quite simple. Not only is it pretty straight forward, but it’s something that parents can do at home with their children. Most parents I work with read with their children every night. Sometimes the parent does the reading, sometimes the child, or a combination of both. Guided reading is just taking this one step further and encouraging your child to engage with the text to gain deeper meaning. This may be something you are already doing when you read with your child and don’t realize that there is a special “teacher” word for it.
Guided reading for a first grader could mean you are simply drawing your child’s attention to how pictures help us understand the text we are reading, or that when we can’t figure a word out, maybe that picture can provide some clues. For your second grader, you might be encouraging her to share what she thinks is going to happen next in the book, or make a prediction. Perhaps with your third grader, you are asking him to think about what kind of person the main character is. Are they a brave person? Maybe this character is very intelligent. These are all parts of guided reading.
Talking about the text and stopping to share predictions, questions, feelings, and connections are all very important. Some children figure out how to do this on their own, but others need it to be modeled. Engaging with your child in this way helps to deepen her understanding, or comprehension, and become a better reader. Another helpful strategy is to simply ask your child to recount what happened in the story once your reading time is done. This helps with memory, comprehension, and can even alert you if the text may not be appropriate for your child’s reading ability.
Below is a picture of a thinkmark. This is a great tool I have my young readers use while they read. It serves as a bookmark but also as a way to guide their reading. You can even use the items on the thinkmark as verbal cues and you don’t have to write at all.