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Tips for New Teachers - Helping Kindergartners to Read

Updated on February 18, 2016

Most teachers know that not all children will be able to read in Kindergarten. Some will, but some won't read until first grade. When I first taught Kindergarten, I was under the impression that I had to go through all the letters of the alphabet with the class before they could start to read.

Most classes work on one letter a week. So I figured that it would take at least 30 or more weeks to get through the alphabet keeping in mind that certain weeks there would be no school. It was kind of discouraging to me because that would almost be the end of the school year. I saw other Kindergarten children reading in different classes, so I knew there had to be some way that they were learning.

My first year of teaching Kindergarten was very new to me since I had been teaching 5th grade for about 10 years. I had a lot to learn coming from the upper grades. It was a totally different world in the lower grades.

I got a brainstorm one day. I don't remember if I had seen this from another teacher or got the idea from the Internet. My class also worked on a letter a week. We would brainstorm words on chart paper. Then I would write sight words and regular words that began with the letter on index cards.

After about five or six weeks, I started to combine the words on the index cards into short sentences on sentence strips. We went over these sentences every day. By this time, we had done about five or six different letters, so they knew enough words.

The class started to read sentences by the end of October. We continued this until the end of the year and I have to say that some of my students were reading on a first grade level.

Starting in January, I gave my class special reading books to take home twice a week. These are short books usually with about six different levels called leveled readers. As the child progresses, they get a higher level book. This also helped them to be better readers.

Whenever there were instructions on a worksheet or workbook page, I had the class read the directions with me. So, every day they were learning new words.

Whenever I read large books to the class, where everyone could see the words, I had them read with me.

Everyday after lunch, the class would have a quiet book time where they would look at and read books. Many times they read with a partner. It is a good idea to pair one good reader and one who needs extra help, together. During this time, I would have the children read their leveled readers to me one by one, to see if they could advance to the next level.

All these steps put together made the students very good readers. The more you practice anything, the better you get at it. The same thing goes with learning how to read. The more exposure that children have to words and books, the better readers they will become.

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