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Lots of struggling readers point at words along a line of print as they read them. Is this:
a. A good thing because it means they don’t lose their place?
b. A bad thing because it interrupts the fluency of their reading?
Beginner readers and struggling readers need to assist their eyes to follow a line of print, so they use a finger to help focus their visual attention. In the early stages of reading, a sentence is often a line length, so a pointing finger is matching a unit of meaning. However, as the texts become longer and a sentence runs over a line, then the child who is finger-pointing is often interrupting their comprehension as they have to move their finger to swing back to find the first word of the next line (which may be a continuation of a sentence started in the previous line).
Most pupils voluntarily abandon finger-pointing once their reading progress becomes more fluent. They have developed the muscles around the eyes which enable them to comfortably track lines of text. However, some children who have taken longer to become fluent, may be reluctant to abandon this support as they have become accustomed to the eyes following the finger rather than scanning the print.
My advice is, that from Catch Up® Literacy level 8 onwards, we should be encouraging children to ‘make their eyes do the work’ and not to point at each word as they read it. However, finger-pointing will have become such a habit for them it will take a bit of effort to persuade them to give it up!
Tips to help pupils make the transition from finger-pointing to eye-scanning
1. Try Paired Reading
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