Learning to write and read (recognize) the 26 letters in the alphabet easily and quickly is essential if a child or adult is to be considered a good-enough reader. A person who struggles and flounders over lots of letters as he/she staggers through a paragraph cannot be called a good enough reader.
Twelve Principles Involved
in Learning to Read, Write, and Spell Well.
- Children need to grow up in high (or at least adequate) language and literacy environments at home, in child care and at school.
- Children need to have a wide variety of experiences in order to develop the concepts, and vocabulary related to them, that they will need to understand the material they are decoding.
- Children need to see adults write and read labels, messages, captions, experience charts, and so on; to dictate some of them, and by kindergarten to do some of the writing pertaining to their play, projects, participation in classroom management, and other activities, in order to develop the understanding that print is a way to share interesting experiences and important information.
- Children need to enjoy looking at books with an adult and being read to one or more times a day almost everyday, from before they are a year old through third grade at least.
- Children need to become alert to and interested in the sounds in words.
- Children need to become interested in and to recognize each upper and lower case letter and the sound(s) each letter makes.
- Children in kindergarten, first, and second grade need to communicate via print-learn to dictate/write, to organize and amplify ideas, to leave spaces between words.
- Children need to become interested in knowledgeable about other print concepts and proficiencies that will enable them to read, in addition to the idea that print is language written down, and knowledge about sound/letter correspondence.
- Children need to learn to recognize their name, the names of their loved ones, key words in their lives and in classroom life.
- Children need to be fairly well able to read their own and classmates' journals, stories, messages using predominantly phonetic and syllabification skills, but also picture and context clues, and common sense by late-first grade, if not sooner.
- Children need to begin learning a little more about spelling and punctuating by late-first grade. By mid-second grade, children need to start mastering the spelling of a short list of key words from their classroom or personal life.
- Children need to comprehend, achieve, fluency, and be able to read aloud as if they were talking, at all stages of the evolution of their ability to read.
According to Moffett and Wagner, "literacy rests principally on methods of being read to and of dictating." Being read to embraces the lap method, or the look/listen approach. Dictating, is the look/talk approach. Both are developmentally appropriate practices for young language users. Developmentally appropriate practices, as described by Bredekamp (1987), incorporate two important dimensions of the learner. First, individual appropriateness of each child is considered. This includes the sum total of the child's experiences in and out of the school environment. Both formal and informal learning situations are considered, such as cultural and family influences. Second, age appropriateness is considered. This developmental perspective of the child provides insights into the types of strategies that can be used to support the child's learning.
The look/listen approach: The lap method not only supports the child's growing sense of love and belonging, but it also lays the foundation for the beginnings of literacy (Taylor 1983; Trelease 1985). By reading aloud, a literate person engages a child in language as they sit together, relaxed and quiet. You are requested to use this method only if it is in compliance with the school policy.
The look/talk approach: In this approach, the learner, dictates something she/he has to say to a literate person who writes down the words verbatim so that the learner can see how her/his oral words look written down. Watching one's words being written down and reading or hearing them read back is a natural and effective way for beginning language users to learn sound/spelling correspondences.
According to Bloome, reading is a social process, and therefore educators must "examine the social relationship established between teacher and students and among students." Collaboration and demonstration are two ways of learning to read.
Collaboration: The children collaborate to make meaning from books by supporting and helping one another. Through collaborative efforts children share skills and expertise in learning.
Demonstration: During demonstrations, one child assumes more of a leadership role and instructs or informs another child. These demonstrations are brief but spontaneous, occurred daily during choice time when the kindergartners participated in numerous learning centers stationed throughout the room. Children not only instructed one another with books, but they helped one another by demonstrating correct wording of other print.
Beginning readers often substitute their own words for those in print. While we want readers to eventually become accurate readers, that should not be the primary goal. Making sense and getting meaning from the text is more important.
Some things to be kept in mind:
- If a miscue doesn't change the meaning or changes it only slightly, one can ignore it.
- Try not to jump in too quickly, wait and give the reader a chance to self-correct or problem solve.
- Show confidence in the child's ability and be available to help.
Some things readers can be encouraged to do when they are trying to figure out a word or get stuck:
- Picture prompt: Direct reader to look at the picture, or to close eyes and imagine what is happening.
- Rerun: Suggest rereading the sentence or phrase to clarify the meaning. This can help in predicting the upcoming word.
- Context Prompt: Ask the reader if what she/he just read made sense; use this information to help the reader predict what words "make sense" or "sound right" in a sentence.
- Read-on: Beginning readers can be encouraged to skip over the unknown word and read to the end of the phrase or sentence, substituting a grunt in place of the mystery word. This helps the reader use the meaning of the surrounding words.
- Comparing: Ask if the reader has seen a word that looks like the troubling one, or write a similar word.
- Structural Prompt: tell or ask the child to notice the word's parts: play-ing, out-side.
Other reading strategies:
Teach the sounds of the letters together with their names. The sound (or sounds) of the letters are often different from the name of the letter. In reading, it's the sound that counts. When you read to the child, point to the letter C, for example and say "the name of this letter is (see) and it makes two sounds: (kkk) as in cat and also (sss) as in the word cent." Then ask the child to give some examples.
- Teach lower case letters first. Capital letters account for only five percent of all letters in written English. Therefore, pay more attention to teaching the lower case letters.
- One should not worry about the grammar in early stages. Preschoolers, kindergartners and first graders are very concrete in the way they think and cannot handle complicated concepts.
- Teach the child writing along with reading. Children learn to read faster if they learn to write at the same time.
- Limit the initial reading vocabulary. Reading is a very complex process.
- Teach only the simple and common words at first.
- In last forty years, reading researchers have been studying the link between the reading process (what goes on in the brain) and how to teach reading. Depending on their interpretation of the reading process, they have developed models of reading.
Reading researchers have classified three kids of reading models:
- Top-Down: Emphasis what the reader brings to the knowledge and experiences.
- Bottom-up: Emphasis the written and printed text.
- Interactive: Recognizes the interaction of the bottom-up and top-down processes simultaneously through-out the reading process.
Beginning to read activities for children preschool through grade two:
- Listening to sounds: Listening for the first sounds in words is an important step in learning to connect language and reading.
- Same sound game: Before children can read words, the need to know the sounds of letters. This game gives children practice in matching sounds and letters.
- Ask a Question: One can help a child develop reading skills by reading stories out loud and asking your child to think about what is read.
- Rhyme Time: Children love words that rhyme. Rhyming words are important to reading because they call the child's attention to the sounds inside words.
Simple To-Do Activities with Young Children:
- Felt Board Fun: Get a large, sturdy cardboard box from the grocery store. Tape the top and bottom closed. Cover the four remaining sides of the box with felt. Teach the children rhymes and finger plays or tell a story, which can be enhanced by easy-to-make felt pieces. Make the pieces, put them on your felt board, and let the children move them around as they say the rhymes.
- Linking Thoughts: Cut 2"x 6" strips of white construction paper. Choose a topic such as things that are white, types of furniture, body parts, things you are thankful for, and so on. Say to the child(ren), "Let's name all of the things we can think of that are white. When you name one, I'll write it on one of these strips of paper." Have The child(ren) start naming things while you write each one down on the strip. After you have made the strips, link them together in a teardrop chain with the words on the outside. As you and the child(ren) make your chain, read the words to them. Let the child(ren) decide where to hang it. You can choose any other topic and link their thoughts together again and again.
- Ongoing Story: Cut 9"x 12" front/back covers from poster board. Use poster board paper pages. Punch three holes in the covers and pages and link them together with metal rings. Show the child(ren) the empty book and tell them that over the next several weeks they will work together to write a book. You start the story, by saying and writing something. Then say to the child(ren) that you want them to think of what happened after that. Each day brainstorm one of the children's adventures. Write down what they say on pages of the book. Every couple of days read the story to the child(ren). When the book is finished send it home.
- List It: Cut a giant poster board shape to represent the topic that you are going to talk about with the children. For example, if you are going to ask the child(ren) to name the fruits that they can think of, you can cut out a giant yellow banana. Hang your banana low on the wall or door so that it is at the child's eye level. Create more lists by cutting out a giant ball to list toys, etc.
- Letter Collect: Give child(ren) precut colored letters. Let child(ren) paste letters to create figures, designs, or scenes (combine two or more letters).
- Pantry Game: Collect a duplicate set of labels from canned goods and food boxes- tuna fish, vegetable soup, rice, etc. Paste one set of labels on a poster board. Children match the second set to the ones on the poster board.
- Freckle Names: Write the child's name on a construction paper. Have the Child(ren) outline their name(s) with glue on the construction paper. Give each child a handful of hole punches and let them have sprinkle these over the paper. Shake off the excess.
- Sand Letters: Provide child(ren) with cards that have a large alphabet letter drawn on them. Give a Q-tip to apply glue to the outline of the letter. Have child(ren) sprinkle sand over the glue and shake off excess. A three-dimensional letter is created to use and re-use for letter recognition.
- Lacing Letters: Make a 12" cardboard set of several letters. Punch holes in the outline of each letter about one inch apart. Attach a two foot piece of yarn to the letter. Allow children to lace the outline of the letter.
- Writing Rhymes: Make up a rhyme with the child(ren) and write it on a flip chart.
- Experience Charts: Write experiences or feelings about experiences on a chart as child(ren) describe them orally.