Reading instruction becomes a large focus of the curriculum in first grade. During this grade, reading becomes more complex, as children start to read sentences and learn how to comprehend text. If you're a first grade teacher and your students are struggling with either decoding or comprehension, there are several tactics that you can employ to foster reading success, making them more fluent readers and turning reading into an activity that they will enjoy.

Decoding

Have children look for pictures based on the letter sound they begin with. Ask them to look through magazines and cut out images that begin with specified letters. Have them create a collage for the specified letter. For instance, have them cut out pictures of items that begin with the letter M and glue them onto a piece of construction paper for an M collage.

Provide students with dry-erase boards and dry-erase markers. Say a word and have them write the letter the word starts with or ends with on the dry-erase board.

Practice rimes or word families with children. State a rime or word family --- ake, for example --- and have students create different words by adding different onsets, or beginning sounds. Knowing one rime can lead to the ability to read several different words.

Comprehension

Activate students' schema (prior knowledge) with pre-reading activities. Have them look through pictures in a text, or present them with items that relate to the text. Ask them to predict what the text will be about based on the pictures or items.

Ask questions during reading. Ask students how they feel about what they are reading. Have them predict what they think will happen next. Ask if they can relate to what is happening in a story.

Have students recall the events in a text with post-reading activities. Let them draw pictures to illustrate their favorite part. Have them answer questions that pertain to the text. Write out sentences from different parts of a story and have children put them in sequential order.