Why Is My Child Guessing Words When Reading

Why Is My Child Guessing Words When Reading?

When you see your little one reading away and then guess a word, it’s normal to feel a bit confused.

This can alter the learning to read process of a child. This challenge mostly occurs when the child is first learning how to read

You may be wondering, “Why is my child guessing words when reading”?

Your child may be guessing words when reading because they cannot read the words accurately.

This can be due to several factors, such as not having learned the phonetic sounds of the alphabet yet, or being unfamiliar with the word’s meaning.

You can help your child overcome this by providing them with plenty of practice reading aloud and by helping them learn the phonetic sounds of the alphabet.

You can also help them become familiar with word meanings by reading stories together and discussing what each word means.

This guide will provide you with the right information on the various reasons that make a child guess words when reading.

There are different types of word guessers.

The First letter guesser: This is where the child guesses at a word after looking at the first letter, hence, failing to gather the full and correct meaning of the word.

The word shape guesser: This is where the child guesses the word after looking at the first and last letters, hence, shaping the middle words after taking a wild guess.

The context clue guesser: This is where the child uses a context clue of words sharing the same first letter to guess the missing word.

The picture clue guessers: This is where the child looks at pictures in comprehension to guess words to get the proper understanding of the comprehension.

The adding sound guesser: The child inserts sounds in words due to improper interpreting of words and tries making sense of the added sound.

Mixing up short words while reading long words: The child adds short and similarly guessed words while reading long words.

The combination guesser: These are the children who face poor phonemic challenges and have poor knowledge and understanding of the alphabetic principle.

The inconsistent guessers: These guessers are likely not to recognize similar words written on different pages or books when reading

The guessing at words habit is very difficult to refrain from. This is the technique that most children will attempt to use when reading mostly unknown words. Guessing at words is a great problem facing the correct reading skills of a child.

Various reasons make some children guess words while reading. 

First, a different understanding of the alphabetic principle in many children has become a great challenge. Some of them know the alphabetic sounds but are challenged when pronouncing words with larger words. 

They also have a habit of looking at the first few letters of a word, then guessing at words that start with similar letters of the unknown word.

Secondly, children with poor decision-making skills may experience word guessing challenges. They are likely to experience difficulties in reducing the reading speed when interpreting an unknown word.

Third, children with inadequate alphabetic principle knowledge face word guessing challenges. They are the most difficult to correct since they learn how to interpret slower than the other children.

There are numerous methods to help children avoid word guessing habits.

‣ Giving proper English guides and creating words out of different letters.

‣ You should help the child pronounce various letters one at a time.

‣ Provide sufficient vowel training to children.

‣ Combining letters and making words together with children

‣ The teachers should teach the children letter sounds.

‣ Help the children read and memorize unknown words.

‣ Introducing lengthy sentences and passages to children according to their development level.

‣ Reminding and urging children to use interpreting skills when reading, hence, discourage guessing of words.

‣ Motivate better word pronouncing by rewarding children after they strengthen their reading skills.

‣ Tackling the guessing of words in children as soon as you identify the issue. 


This child’s word guessing behavior can be avoided when children are taught early how to read. This can also be done by introducing the English alphabetic principles to students as early as their nursery education level. 

It can be done through sufficient reading and writing of English words as a mode of teaching in both public and private schools. 

Proper reading and pronunciation of words lead to a better understanding of what one is reading. 

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