Decoding Strategies

  • Have you ever sat next to a child when they come to a word they can't read?  Perhaps you've seen the "deer-in-headlights" look, perhaps you've witnessed the ever-common shoulder shrug, or perhaps you've witnessed the child pretend it didn't happen and slyly turn the page.  It's important to teach your child that there will always be challenging words (even as adults!) and help them use a variety of strategies to decode words. 

    Here are some strategies you can use to help your child learn to decode new words.


    Look at the picture Pictures provide great clues as to what difficult words may be!  Ask your child, "Do you see anything in the picture that begins with the letter _ (beginning of unknown word)?" 

    Sound it out Put your finger under each letter and sound it out.  (This doesn't always work,  thanks to the ever-confusing English language!)

    Look for a smaller word in the bigger word Be a detective.  Can you see a smaller word within a bigger word?  Some examples are: hand, spill, pond

    Skip the word and read on Put your finger over the difficult word and read the rest of the sentence.  There might be clues in the rest of the sentence that will give clues as to what the difficult word is.  It's very important to stress that they must go back and re-read; skipping words without trying to determine meaning won't help!