My child is 10 years old and can read, but what next?


By Jana Terblanche

You are absolutely right, Mom! Your child’s reading skills must now deepen, because your child is now in the reading-to-learn phase which extends through the intermediate phase (grades 4 to 6) and senior phase (grades 7 to 9), up to the end of the further education and training (FET) phase (grades 10 to 12) and even beyond. In these phases, it is assumed that learners’ basic reading skills are sufficiently developed and established from 0 to 9 years. The focus now shifts to expanding learners’ skills in terms of reading fluency and reading with understanding. Although the method of teaching in these phases does not differ much from one another, the difference lies in the degree of difficulty (low and higher order thinking levels) of the chosen texts. In grades 4 to 6 the content of texts should be more concrete and in grades 7 to 12 texts can be increasingly abstract.

Children in this phase can improve their reading skills by focusing on certain reading strategies.

  1. Content Prediction: This strategy involves forming an idea of ​​what a child can expect in a text, based on the title, the cover, and any other visual indicators. This helps children to create a context for the reading experience.
  2. Visualization of content: Children should be encouraged to create a picture in their mind while reading. This visual image helps to deepen the understanding of the text.
  3. Word Recognition: The recognition of word forms and sound structures is an essential step in the reading process. This includes recognizing sight words as well as deciphering unknown words using phonetic principles.
  4. Derivation of meaning: Children must learn to infer the meaning of words and sentences using context and indicators in the text.
  5. Making associations: This strategy involves making connections between what a child is reading and what they already know. It promotes understanding and remembering.
  6. Bonding: Learners must be taught how to identify connections between different parts of the text, such as cause and effect relationships, contrasts and comparisons.
  7. Text evaluation: This skill is related to the critical evaluation of the text, including identifying the author’s purpose, the arguments being made, and the credibility of the source.
  8. Questions answered: The ability to answer questions about the text promotes understanding and the retention of important information.
  9. Monitoring of text: Children must learn to monitor whether they understand what they are reading and to make necessary adjustments if they get lost.

So read through the text with your child and guide him or her with the above strategies.

Reading techniques in the reading-to-learn phase:

  1. Flight reading: This technique involves quickly going through a text to get a general idea of ​​what it entails. It is useful to get a preliminary overview of a text.
  2. Search read: Search reading is when a child is directed to the search for specific information or answers to questions in a text.
  3. Careful reading: This technique requires a child to read each word carefully in order to gain a complete understanding of the text. This is necessary for deeper understanding.

Give your child certain assignments about reading the text and ask questions to practice the above techniques.

Vocabulary and grammar development:

In this phase it is also important to promote the development of vocabulary and grammar. Children need to be exposed to a rich variety of words and sentence structures to strengthen their language skills. Speak pure Afrikaans yourself and in full sentences to set a good example for your child. Help him or her correct when they make a language mistake or when the sentence construction or word order is not correct. Play board games like Scrabble and Boggles to expand vocabulary.

In the reading-to-learn phase, the development of a strong reading foundation is of utmost importance. By developing the above reading strategies, techniques, vocabulary and grammar, we can equip children with a skill that can spark a lifelong love of reading and learning. Reading is not just a skill, but a key to a rich and fulfilled life.

  • Jana Terblanche is the head of GeRAT, the Afrikaans Trade Association of the Solidarity School Support Center (SOS), and collaborator on the SOS reading guide.