Simple Tips to Help Children Decode Text

6 Strategies to Help Students Decode Text

young boy reading book on sofa
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 As an elementary school reading teacher, one of your main jobs will be to help many primary students (K-2) to decode basic words and text. Even the simplest words can be a challenge to the struggling reader and your job is to give them the best tools and strategies so that harder and harder words will start to flow off their tongues naturally. In my room, I introduce my young readers to six straightforward strategies that they must memorize and use when they come across a word that they just can't seem to get past. It really works to post these strategies in your room where they will become familiar and helpful friends to your struggling readers as they move towards competency:

6 Decoding Strategies

Decoding is an essential skill because it is the foundation in which all other reading instruction builds upon. Presenting and instructing phonics is another essential component of decoding. Try using a multi-sensory approach which will help reach all learners in conjunction with the following decoding strategies. Here are the six main strategies that are highly effective in elementary classrooms.

1. Think About the Meaning of the Story 

This is key. Students must learn to rely on the context and meaning of the story in order to forge meaning of unfamiliar words. As adults, we sometimes have to do this in our own reading, so this is an extremely important skill that you must help your students to master.

2. Chunk It

Teach your students to break the word up into more "know-able" parts. For example, the word "unbelievable" looks quite daunting. But, when chunked up in to "un-be-lieve-able," it will almost certainly be more manageable.

3. Get Your Mouth Ready to Say the Sound

If a student has reached a total stumbling block, they might need to take it letter by letter. Have students get their mouth ready to say the word by taking their time and sounding out each letter.

4. Re-read

Sometimes the students will have to read, read, and read again in order to get the intended meaning of the text. Teach your students to be persistent and they will reap the rewards of reading comprehension.

5. Skip, Then go Back

If the student is totally lost, they might want to try skipping a little bit of the text and perhaps the meaning will become more clear as they move ahead. Then, they can go back and fill in the blanks, using the added information they gained from moving ahead.

6. Look at the Picture

Usually, this is the students' favorite strategy because it's relatively easy, effective, and fun. Don't let them get stuck on this single strategy. It's definitely a good one, but sometimes it can be the easy way out at the expense of students learning the more in-depth strategies.

Students can also try and skip the word and come back to it once they understand the context of the text, or they can look at word families.

Give these strategies a try with your young readers. They need to live them, love them, and learn them. Reading enjoyment is right at their fingertips, but they do have to work at it until it comes more naturally. Have fun with the excitement of reading with these enthusiastic young minds!