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Learning to Read

In the Kindergarten classroom, our approach to reading and writing development emphasizes oral language through storytelling, drawing and illustration skills, writing, and a love and appreciation of literature from a variety of genres and cultures. This is combined with more skill-based activities designed to help children make sense of the world of letters, sounds, and words. Children learn to read through their writing and to write through their reading; we know from research and experience that the two are connected. Through their individual work, children show teachers their mastery and what instructional steps need to follow.

Learn to ReadLearning to Read:
Our approach to teaching reading consists of research-based activities that are designed to help children build the skills they need to become fluent, confident, enthusiastic readers. Sometimes teachers implement these activities as “Literacy Stations” during Choice Time, and sometimes we may have a separate block of time called “Reading Workshop.” The decision depends on the needs and behaviors of the children, goals at different times of the year, scheduling, and teaching styles.

During Shared Reading, teachers lead the class in reading large-print songs, poems, and big books that help children notice aspects of print and develop an expressive “reader’s voice.” These lessons stress three components: decoding (sounding out words based on letter sound knowledge), fluency (reading or rereading expressively, smoothly, and with appropriate speed), and comprehension (understanding and making meaning of the text).

During phonics lessons, children learn about letter features, letter-sound relationships, rhyming words, syllables, sight vocabulary (words that children can read without having to “sound out”), word parts (e.g. –at words such as cat, mat, hat), and many other topics. Lessons are taught in a sequential pattern that builds upon children’s prior knowledge and leads to reading success. Teachers frequently teach these skills during Morning Meeting (when we read the morning message), Shared Reading, and Writing Workshop so that they are an authentic part of children’s natural classroom work.

During Reading Workshop or Literacy Stations, children work in groups at centers to practice skills that reinforce whole class lessons. In Reading Workshop, teachers balance very structured stations with play-oriented activities, such as letter bingo, building words with play-doh, a listening center, pretend play, and big book browsing. When integrated with Choice Time, children have 2-3 “must-do centers” that they must complete over the course of a week, with or without teacher guidance, and other Choice Time activities that integrate literacy (e.g. making signs in the Block Area).

Teachers carefully select Read Aloud literature to reflect curriculum themes and children’s interests, as well as to expose children to ideas, genres, cultures, etc. that will broaden their thinking. We read time-honored classics, fairy and folk tales, poetry, non-fiction, and many other selections. Also, author/genre studies (e.g. Eric Carle’s books or multiple versions of the 3 Little Pigs) throughout the year teach children about different ways that people write or illustrate stories on many topics of interest to our students.

By late February (following vacation), teachers begin Guided Reading instruction with all senior kindergartners. Guided Reading instruction is not part of the JK learning expectations, but may take place as appropriate, based on student interest and skills, in combined JK/SK classrooms. Teachers work with small groups of children who are at the same reading level during Reading Workshop or Choice Time. Reading instruction consists of a teacher-led introduction to the book, children reading the book individually with the teacher observing and helping to problem-solve, and a follow-up discussion. (about 10-20 minutes per group