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Kindergarten Reading Skills
Q: I am concerned that my six-year-old child is not learning to read. She will not even learn all the letters of the alphabet until the end of the year in her kindergarten class. Do I need to be encouraging her to learn more with a phonics reading program?
A: Don't be surprised that your child is not learning to read in kindergarten. Most don't. The focus in the typical kindergarten class is on teaching children pre-reading skills. This primarily means that they will learn to recognize the letters of the alphabet and their sounds, especially at the beginning of words.
Not all kindergarten curriculums are the same. A few will have students reading simple materials by the end of the year. Your concern should not be concentrated as much on what your child is learning about reading this year, but on what she will be expected to know at the start of first grade.
A chat with the kindergarten teacher should allay any worries that your child will not be ready to handle the first-grade reading activities. Plus, a look at the school's kindergarten and first-grade curriculums should reassure you that there will be a smooth transition between these two levels. You might also want to look at the state curriculum for kindergarten to see that your child's school is following state guidelines. This information is frequently available on a state's Department of Education website.
While you certainly don't need to have your child work on a formal phonics reading program, you should be doing things to reinforce the relationship of letters and their sounds. When you read to your daughter or are doing daily activities with her, point out the beginning sounds of words. And have her identify words that begin with the same sound. Above all else, avoid any phonics activities that only use drills or worksheets. These can turn off children from reading.
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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.