You know how challenging it can be to wait a student out when they’re trying to figure out a word?? Well, there’s a good reason to actually just WAIT: Readers need that time! It’s so important to let kids think and apply strategies without just telling them the word. Now, this is a true challenge, because you’re kinda just staring at the child, willing them to say the word, as the time ticks by. That being said, I find that this makes a huge difference in a short amount of time because the reader actually gains confidence, knowing that you believe in them to figure out challenging words.
I’ve done wait time with students and was so pleased with the results! In just a few weeks, the kids were capable of figuring out challenging words on their own, without a loooong amount of wait time. This is huge for readers because it means they can also apply the strategies on their own, when you aren’t sitting around the Guided Reading table with them!
There is truly not much to this strategy, on your part. You just have to really be extra patient with some readers, but it’s worth it.
You don’t want the reader to become so frustrated that they just completely give up and stare blankly back at you. To avoid this from happening, I definitely recommend providing guidance, where you’re helping them identify which strategies they could use. This is completely different than telling them the actual word. In my Guided Reading Passages packs, in the During Reading section of my lesson plans, I include recommended prompts to provide readers with while they’re reading. These change based on the level of the story the child is reading, but they’re there to remind you that kids need that guidance from you, during Guided Reading! You can simply encourage the reader by asking “What strategy could you use to figure out that word?” when you notice them struggling with a specific word as they read. If they’re unable to come up with anything, then you can provide them with more specific prompts, such as the ones listed below. (These are from my Level C lesson plans within my Guided Reading packs.)