Building Readers: Laying a Strong Foundation

Imagine building a house and beginning with the roof! You don’t need construction experience or a degree in architecture to know that this will not lead to a successful end. Just as the building of a house needs to follow a certain order, skills for reading also follow a sequence. In fact, research has shown that most students learn to read following the same sequence of skill acquisition. What does this mean as we teach beginning readers? 

Parents, students, and even teachers are often so anxious to start the reading process that beginning readers are frequently presented with words before they are ready for them. According to reading research students should first work with letters. In fact, students should concentrate on capital letters; once they know the uppercase letters, the lowercase letters are easier to learn. Only after mastering both upper- and lowercase letters should high frequency or sight words be strategically taught.

Although it’s often tempting to jump into phonics in order to please parents and administrators, research has shown that students with strong phonemic awareness skills tend to be better readers than those who do not participate in as many of these auditory activities. Before connecting letters and sounds, students should clap out syllables, play with rhymes, and isolate initial sounds in words. As students continue on the reading continuum, they can work with letter sounds and then decoding.

These are just a few examples related to the sequencing of reading skills; there are entire books devoted to this subject! Just keep in mind that as you make your weekly and daily plans, you must always consider the sequence of skills. A simple solution to ensuring that the correct reading sequence is followed is to use the materials in our many thematic units. Starting with the Alphabet Fair at the beginning of the school year and continuing with successive units, skills are addressed in the sequence recommended by research. The Kindergarten Kiosk units can supplement any reading program, providing timely activities for practice and intervention.  Our units also include math, science, writing, suggested literature, and more cross-curricular fun.

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