How to Make a Safe Reading Environment

how to make a safe reading environmentWant to know how to make a safe reading environment? Well, it’s simple enough – in theory. In real life, it can be hard to get everyone to cooperate, but even knowing the secret can give parents and teachers a big head start. And, believe me, it’s worth the effort because, hard or not, a safe reading environment is vital for students to excel at reading out loud in class.

How to Make a Safe Reading Environment:
Tips for Teachers & Students

Successfully making a safe reading environment takes more than setting down rules or encouraging a certain procedure. It takes cooperation from 3 different groups: the teachers, the readers, and the listeners.

For Teachers: Set the Guidelines*

One of the best ways for teachers to make students comfortable reading aloud is to make their classrooms safe places to read. That means making it clear that no one will be allowed to make fun of anyone else. And that includes the teacher.

It also means demonstrating to students that it’s ok to make mistakes – in fact, it’s not a big deal. Correct the mistake(s) casually and move on. It’s all a part of learning.

*Parents, if you find that your child’s classroom is not a safe reading environment (students make fun of other students, the teacher treats mistakes like mortal sins, etc.), then it may be time to talk to the teacher and see what can be done to fix that.

If it can’t be fixed, you can also talk to your child about healthy ways to deal with the mockery, and you can always create a safe reading environment at home to help better prepare your child for class. If the behavior is extreme enough to be considered bullying, you might also need to discuss the issue with the school counselor or principal.

For the Readers: Correct the error and move on.

Mistakes happen. Even if you’re the best reader ever in the history of the written word, you’re going to make mistakes. And the best way to recover from a mistake is to calmly correct it and keep going.

Think about it this way. What are people going to remember more – someone who mispronounces a word, fixes it, and moves on? Or a person who mispronounces a word and gets really upset about it?

In case you’re wondering, it’s the second one.

I hate to say it, but the more you draw attention to something, the more other people will notice it. If you fix it and keep going, however, a lot of the time, people won’t even realize it happened. Even if they do catch it at the time, they probably won’t remember it later.

And if by chance they do remember? Well, then, it’s even more important for you to remind yourself that it was a simple mistake and that everyone makes them.

Remember: a speaking mistake isn’t a big deal – don’t treat it like one.

For the Listeners: Be respectful.

In a classroom, anyone who’s listening also has to read at some point. If you’re honest with yourself, you know that you make mistakes, too. If you don’t want people to make fun of your mistakes, don’t make fun of theirs – even if other people do. And that includes laughing when someone else is made fun of.

Be respectful. It’s as simple as that.

For Everyone

When it comes to reading out loud in class, the one absolute requirement for success is a safe reading environment. If students are afraid of being made fun of (because of reading speed, a speech impediment, mispronunciation, making a mistake, etc.), being required to read aloud in front of their classmates can cause students stress and anxiety – enough that students who feel pressured reading out loud to begin with can develop an aversion to reading or speaking in front of others for years to come.

While a safe reading environment can’t offer students the skills to excel at reading aloud, it can provide them a place to practice without fear of ridicule. That in turn, can give them the courage to try – more importantly, it can give them the courage to fail until they succeed.

Being respectful of yourself and others – that’s how to make a safe reading environment, and that’s the key to help students learn to read out loud.

Have more questions about creating a safe reading environment? Ask us in the comments.

Author: Elizabeth F., Writer and Teacher at A Grade Ahead

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