Literacy in Early Childhood provides the foundation for reading throughout the grades (and throughout life as well!). Instruction begins with letter and sound recognition and progresses through the developmental stages of skills such as rhyming, phoneme blending and segmentation, chunking words, and reading high frequency words. We also use literature to teach comprehension skills and to instill an appreciation of good writing.
We use a balanced literacy program, which uses direct instruction, small group work, and independent activities to stretch a child's reading abilities as far as possible for the individual. Whole group instruction usually consists of a read-aloud story, which is then accompanied by a comprehension activity and some type of skill lesson.
New this year is Reading Workshop, created by Lucy Calkins through Columbia University. Beginning pre-reading and reading skills are taught in a whole group mini-lesson format. Those skills are then practiced independently through games, computers, and other student work through the teacher and aides work with Guided Reading groups and skill strategy groups. These groups are formed by ability level and allow the teacher to focus on individual skills and strategies to strengthen each child's abilities. Guided Reading groups are fluid and flexible, so children may move through the levels at their own pace. Children who are struggling and those who excel are given plenty of opportunities to feel successful and fulfilled.
Our writing series, Writing Workshop (Lucy Calkins), is taught through teacher modeling and student practice. Children are encouraged to view themselves as writers and to take risks and ownership with their writing. They are taught composition, mechanics, spelling, and usage as developmentally appropriate. They learn the use of high frequency words through the use of a word wall which makes the most common words available for their use. It is amazing how quickly they learn these words without looking!
The balanced literacy program allows for security, instruction and success in young readers and writers. We hope to educate a classroom of students who read and write throughout their lives!
Even before they know what words are, children can benefit from watching and listening to you read aloud. Within their first year, they're able to learn basic language and reading concepts, such as how to hold a book, which direction to flip a page, and what you're reading-the words, not the pictures. The earlier children grasp these concepts, the easier those children learn to read when they're ready. Here are some ways that you can help young children get the most out of reading aloud:
Read slowly and with expression.
Try using different voices for different characters. The more dramatic the better.
Follow the words with your finger as you read. You'll be showing your child that words are read from the left to the right of the page.
Point to the pictures and say the names of objects and colors.
Have them help you turn the pages.
Ask them to describe pictures, repeat phrases used in the story, and predict what will happen next.
Take time to answer their questions.
Read a variety of books--continue reading old favorites, but don't be afraid to try new stories.