Reader is Not Stopping at Periods

The Problem Looks Like…

The reader is running sentences together without stopping at periods. Comprehension suffers.

How to…

Improve comprehension and reduce misunderstandings.

It’s Related to…

Using Periods

Of all punctuation, the period is most important. Consider its purposes.

Correct use of periods...

  • leads to better comprehension.

  • provides a clear end for phrasing.

  • indicates places to stop and reflect.

Periods Support Comprehension

Early readers use immense mental attention for decoding, leaving little awareness for punctuation. A period is the first critical punctuation that requires reader attention. Early readers ignore periods and create serious comprehension errors.

·       For example, look at the text below:

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From the story “Mandy Made Me Do It” by Jan Weeks, when a reader fails to stop at the period, it sounds as if mom made a chocolate cake while on the way home from school. This error would definitely affect comprehension! Unfortunately, many young readers just accept this as plausible and comprehension suffers.  A habit of full stop at periods will avoid such confusions.

Early instruction must include direction for a complete stop at every period  to avoid errors of meaning. However, it's important to note, early readers may also misunderstand “complete stop” and actually pause too long. An experienced reader’s model is the best example of fluent reading to demonstrate a momentary pause at periods.

Periods Guide Phrasing

·       Early reading acquisition includes the development of phrasing.

·       Good phrasing creates greater fluency and reading rate.

·       Although there are many variations of coherent phrasing, periods always end a phrase and act as the first guide            to develop an ear for phrasing.

·       New readers require direct explanation and modeling of phrasing and its impact on comprehension and fluency.

·       Focus on the use of periods is the best place to begin developing phrased reading.

Periods Offer Places for Contemplation

In “Turn the Page…It’s Fun: A Concepts of Print Story” by Connie Dickison, a period is a reliable location for reader contemplation. The following words guide the learner.

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·       This is exactly what a new reader needs to do, create a story in the imagination.

·       Too often new readers believe getting to the end of the story is the goal, forgetting that along the way a story is            supposed to develop in memory.

·       A period can remind the reader to reflect on the sequence of events, character traits and motivations.

Experienced readers take periods for granted. Developing readers benefit from direct instruction regarding the usefulness and purposes.

Now That’s Better…

Readers notice periods and stop just briefly enough to develop phrasing. No misunderstandings occur from skipping periods. Eventually, it is second nature to take a momentary break at a period and the mind has energy to create images that will guide accurate recall and higher-level comprehension.