Lesley University February 24, 2023 by Wendy Vaulton

Is it harmful to ask an emergent reader “Does that make sense?” Widespread consensus exists that decoding is critical for learning to read. Some have suggested that using anything else, such as context, may hamper word learning. In fact, I recently overhead a conversation in which a teacher was frustrated that decoding strategies were not leading to more successful reading. She wasn’t sure what else to do and added, “I am scared to ask ‘Does that make sense?’ because of the science of reading.” I have to believe no one ever intended to stoke such a fear, but when an educator is scared to ask a child about meaning during reading, something is off-kilter.

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