Reading Specialist

I am Jackie Lockwood and I am the Reading Specialist at St. Katharine's.  I help students who are having trouble with reading at grade level.  I work with K-8th graders.  If you think your child is having trouble reading, please contact his/her teacher and/or me.  I can do some informal assessments in reading that can help us determine if we need to go further with this.  I came across a good article, "Word Recognition Strategies for the Struggling Reader."  Below are some strategies that will help you help your struggling reader.  To e-mail me, click here

What is word recognition?

Word recognition is the ability to read words in isolation or within the context of a sentence or story without hesitation.  Sounding out words, or decoding, is of utmost importance in developing reading fluency and comprehension. The more children practice decoding, the more fluent readers they become.

Sound Out the Word

Have the child attack an unfamiliar word piece by piece by sounding out the beginning letter, digraph (sh, ch, ea, etc.) or blend (st, bl, dr, etc.). If needed, sound out the letter(s) at the end and in the middle.   Have the child blend the sounds together and try to say the word. 

Use Picture Clues

Have the child look at the picture to confirm whether the word he/she decoded makes sense.

Look for Word Chunks

Have the child look for familiar word chunks within a word like and in sand and eat in treat. Help the child recognize common prefixes (un-, re-, dis-, non-, en-, etc.), suffixes (-ing, -ed, -er, -able, -ness, -tion, etc.), and then read each chunk in the word by itself. For example, tr-eat-able is treatable, and s-and-ing is sanding.

Apply the Rules of Phonics

Certain rules of phonics help decode words. 

  • A vowel between two consonants usually makes a short vowel sound. Examples: hat, flip, check. 
  • Two vowels between two or more consonants usually make the long vowel sound of the first vowel. Examples: grain, treat, coat.
  • One-syllable words ending with -e as in bake and home, the first vowel makes a long vowel sound.
  • If r follows a vowel, there is no long or short vowel sound. Examples: tear, tar, bird.

Identify Syllables

  • When two consonants appear in the middle of a word, divide the word between the two consonants.   The vowel sounds are short. Example is: nap-kin.
  • When one consonant is between two vowels, divide the word before the consonant. This creates an open syllable where the syllable ends in a vowel. Open syllables have a long vowel sound as in ti-ger and pa-per.
  • Prefixes and suffixes form syllables.
  • Words ending with a consonant and -le make one syllable. Examples are dim-ple and han-dle.

Connect the Words

Use a known word to see if the unfamiliar one makes sense.  For example, fiction and fictitious.


Have the child read the sentence again to see if the word makes sense.

Keep Reading

Have the child continue beyond the unfamiliar word and look for clues to help recognize the word.