Fingers and Emergent Reading Techniques

I'm watching a lot of kids use their fingers when they read. Sometimes they underline. Sometimes they glide over the words as if they were reading braille. I'm wondering what that's about.

I use my fingers once in a while - mostly when I suspect they are interested in word matching because they're reading along audibly or under their breath. That's what is happening here:

I know we adults also use a sort of look and point approach, saying things like "There's a giraffe" or "Look at the elf!"? Here, Cheryl is pointing out something on the wordless last page of Six Little Ducks:

But, these exceptions aside, we don't usually use our fingers when we read. So where do the kids get this idea from?

(I remember forever ago watching a 20 minute training video for parents that gave great weight to underlining words with one's finger when reading aloud. It was one of those uncomfortable instances when some literacy group, having found a good idea, decide it was the Good Idea. Since we were - thankfully! - maturing out of the stage of assuming our job involved telling parents what to do, we never used the video.)

Is it something they learn in school? Is it something they teach each other? (That's a serious question, by the way - an enourmous amount of information and practice appears to be handed down from older brothers and sisters.) Is it a carry-over from counting behaviour? (I'm seeing lots of kids who seem to really, really enjoy counting - something made easier with touch.) Is it a natural practice - 'natural' because it makes reading easier at the word-matching stage?

I don't know.

And it's not important that I know.

But I am curious.

They be curious little critters. :)

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