Saturday, December 8, 2012

5 Finger Rule

This past week a parent, with whom I have a great rapport, approached me to talk about how her student was doing. She was worried because while reading at home, her student becomes very frustrated and throws tantrums. She said, "I catch her cheating and looking at the pictures! Then we get into an argument and I punish her."


I immediately felt bad for my student. Reading should never be an argument, and I know my student is fully capable of reading. She is a "bubble kid" know, a kid on the cusp of being at grade level. She can do it, but just needs a little more practice.

Like a doctor or a car mechanic, I began asking questions to further understand the situation:

  • What does she read at home?
  • Who reads with her?
  • Do you read to her?
  • What does she like to read?
  • How often is she reading?
  • Do you have a homework routine?
Turns out, the books she has been reading are books that she enjoys. However, they may be too hard for her. I was not familiar with the titles, but gave mom a suggestion for finding out if a book is too difficult or too easy for her student. It's called, "The 5 Finger Rule."

Have the student pick a book they like, and read a page (preferably the first page, but really, any page will do). On your fingers, where the student can't see, keep track of their mistakes. If the student makes 5 mistakes within that page (or paragraph, depending on the length of the book), the book is too hard. If the student makes zero mistakes, the book is too easy. If the student makes 2-3 mistakes, the book is "just right". 

I also let mom know that we do "picture walks" before we read a story. Looking at a picture is not "cheating". It is a sign that the student wants to comprehend the story. It is there for clues to words she may not know. 

I also showed mom how to do "window fingers" before reading the page. Mom can then point out any vocabulary or sight words that her student is unfamiliar with and have the student use her window fingers to find the words.

I took Mom through an actual reading lesson using a book her daughter will be starting on Monday so she can see it in action. We talked about high frequency (sight) words and the importance of memorizing them. I reminded her that reading to her will help. I gave her my website with many different resources to use.

Reading should not be a stressful topic at home. I asked mom if she felt better now that she has some tools to pull out at home. She said she felt bad that she wasn't doing things right and stressing out her daughter, but she will try them and see how it goes.

I wish her the best! Hopefully this will put her daughter over the top to be successful!
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