Sunday, November 7, 2010


Questions about how and when children learn to read were a popular topic during conferences last week. I thought a further description of things we do at school to promote reading might be helpful.

There are countless theories and books on the topic of reading, so obviously I will only provide a glimpse into the subject in this blog entry. Hopefully, it will give a foundation for further discussions about the subject through out the year.

During the day we use a variety of techniques to teach reading:

>Linguistics Methods
>Whole-word Approach
>Language Experience Approach
>Choral Reading
>Recorded Books
>Paired Reading Method

The reason for using so many techniques and methods in the classroom is that, so far, no system for teaching reading exists that works for everyone. As anyone who has learned English as an adult, can tell you, English is not an easy language to master. For every rule there is an exception. I often talk and laugh with the children about the crazy English language. For example, the other day we looked at the word "knot". Try to use phonics to read this word and no one will know what you are trying to say.

Each child came to school with pre-reading skills:

>having an appreciation for books and reading
>showing a beginning understanding of the concept of print having meaning
>comprehension and responds to stories read aloud
>demonstrates phonological awareness (i.e. hearing initial sounds in words, rhyming words...)

As reading ability progresses children will build on these skill to be able to:

>recognize lower and upper case letters
>decode unfamiliar words
>Use strategies to construct meaning from print

When individual children start to read is the magical piece. Most children start reading between 4 and 7 but just as babies roll over, walk, and talk at different ages, children read in their own time and at their own pace.

Our job as adults is to provide children with an environment rich with words and reading, to encourage their reading. It is important to not have reading become a chore, keep reading interesting, enjoyable and part of everyday.

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