How to Teach Children to Use Context Clues When Reading

Is your child in elementary school? If so, then one of the many reading skills he or she needs to learn is how to use context clues. Read on to discover how you can help your child with this process.

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Helping Your Child Use Context Clues

Why Context Clues Are Important

Using context clues when reading is one of the most effective ways of increasing reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. Context clues are words in a sentence that surround a more difficult vocabulary word. These words provide clues as to what the vocabulary word means. They are commonly used in textbooks when new vocabulary words are introduced, but they're present in children's novels and stories as well.

Some context clues essentially provide your child with a definition of the new word. Others simply provide a synonym your child probably already knows. Then, there are clues that are the opposite of a new word and reveal its meaning by contrast. Finally, there are context clues that provide information about a new word.

Techniques for Teaching Context Clues

One of the most basic ways for a child to use context clues when reading is for him or her to do a picture walk. Instruct your child to look at all of the pictures in a book before doing any reading. Discuss the pictures with your child and ask him or her to predict what may happen in the book. When your child reads the text, he or she will be able to use the pictures to read and understand unfamiliar words.

Another way to teach your child about context clues is to cover up a word with your finger or a piece of paper. Your child must read the surrounding sentence and try to pick a word that fits in the blank. When you uncover the word, your child will probably have a good idea what it means based upon the context clues he or she has analyzed.

Encouraging Reading at Home

When your child's learning how to use context clues, the best practice he or she can get is simply reading a lot. If possible, set aside a chunk of time each day for family reading. You can lead by example by reading also.

You can find age and level-appropriate book lists online or at a local library. Go over the list with your child and allow him or her to pick out books that are interesting. You can sit with your child and read some of these books together. Keep your eyes open for context clues that you can point out to your child or have your child find for him or herself. Of course, you can also go over textbooks with your child and point out the context clues.

Resources that Can Help Your Child

If your child's having a hard time using context clues, don't worry. There are a variety of helpful resources at your fingertips. A plethora of websites offer elementary-level reading games and activities. If your child needs extra assistance to understand and use context clues, there may be after-school or weekend reading programs that he or she can take part in. You can also always hire a private, one-on-one elementary reading tutor to help your child pick up on context clues.

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