Learning to Read
Learning to Read, like learning to write, is a complex task. You have to know that text is what provides meaning and that we start at the left and read right. You have to know that letters make up words and words have meaning. You have to be able to recognise, process and use visual cues for clues to unknown words. You have to use your letter/sound knowledge to try to work out unknown words. You have to be able to instantly recognise words that don't look the way they sound (rocket words). And while doing all of that you have to try to keep the ideas in your mind about what it is all saying and meaning. On top of all of that we try to foster a love of books!
There are many skills we unpack and teach along the way to provide a reader's toolbox to equip kids to work through books. However, before kids begin reading their own books we do something called Shared Reading. This is where we read texts--stories and poems--together over a number of sessions, unpacking everything mentioned above. The repetition of reading it together leads to confidence and some independence in the children's reading it on their own eventually.
We have had a few questions about the poetry book coming home and what you can be doing at home. What you can be doing at home is rereading the poems, pointing out the repeating words (which are usually highlighted), pointing out the first letter sounds of longer words, talking about what the poem is saying, pointing out the rhyming words and noticing that usually they have the same endings, and remind them to point under each word as they read them.
These are some of the strategies we start to teach once some of the fundamentals are understood and most letters and sounds are learned. Stretchy snake--stretches out the sounds of unknown words. Eagle Eye--looks at the pictures for clues about unknown words. Lips the Fish--says the first sound of the unknown word. Skippy Frog--skips over the unknown word, reads on, thinks about what makes sense and comes back to it. Chunky Monkey--looks for small chunks or words within bigger words.
Throughout the day we have the opportunity to read in a small group with a teacher, focussing on specific skills. We have the opportunity to read with a buddy and practise known books or read on our own practising reading the pictures, words we know or retelling the story. We have opportunities to practise our letters and sounds and words through hands-on fun games and activities. So many members of our class are goal setters who choose to practise on their own at discovery time as well.