Kindergarten parents often ask…
“What can I do to help my child in reading?”
First, READ, READ, READ to your kindergarten child and HAVE CONVERSATIONS with your child often!
Read signs as you walk or drive home. Read labels in the grocery store. Read books, even if it’s the same book over and over again. Talk about things that you read and about things you see in the world. Ask your child questions and let them ask you questions. Reading is one of the most important skills to master in early childhood education.
Throughout their year in kindergarten, children often bring home-guided reading books or leveled texts to practice at home. In this article, you’ll discover strategies how parents can work on when using early reading texts or guided reading books with their kindergarten child.
Why Book Knowledge is So Important
Children who have had experiences with books outside of or in addition to school tend to have a wider vocabulary. They participate in discussions, make connections to texts they have heard before, and possess knowledge about “how books work.” They know how to hold a book and how to read from front to back and left to right.
They understand that the letters on the page have meaning and make up words even if they can’t yet read those words. They have built good listening comprehension skills (the ability to understand the meaning of words heard and to relate to them in some way).
Reading the Pictures and Finding the Pattern
Reading involves more than just reading the words on the page. It also relies heavily on a child being able to “read the pictures.” When your child is given guided reading books from Level A-D, he/she must remember to look at the picture and begin thinking about what the page will be about. Educators teach children to use the picture to make meaning of the story and to help them figure out unknown words.
Most Level A and Level B books follow a pattern. Teachers are looking to see if children know the basic sight words in the pattern, if they can remember the sentence from page to page, and if they use the picture and the initial sound in the word to figure out unknown words. For example, a book might read – I like to eat apples. I like to eat bananas. I like to eat strawberries. I like to eat pears.
Typically a book like this will have one sentence on each page and a picture to support the meaning. It might have a picture of a child eating the various fruit. I, LIKE, and TO are common sight words that children become familiar with when first learning to read.
The word EAT can be deciphered because the child in the picture is eating and EAT makes sense in the sentence. The last word on each page is a vocabulary word that the child needs to figure out based on the picture and the initial sound. This is where a child should be able to look at the picture and say a word that makes sense. If a child has a limited vocabulary or doesn’t use the picture to help them read, then they often miss these words.
Next, help your child find the pattern in their books.
Help Your Child Find the Patterns
If your child is reading Level A and B books, you can help them by asking them if they noticed the pattern in the book. Here is an example that you can try:
“Do you notice the pattern in the book? What is it? Yes, you’re correct. Each page has the sentence I like to eat __.”
Help your child read the first page. If your child struggles with reading the next page, remind them that it is a pattern book and they can use what they know from the previous page to help them. Encourage them to go back and read the previous page to give them a clue.
** A note about Level A and B books and memorization –
Parents often worry that their child has “memorized” books and wonder if their child is really reading. Remembering the words, sentences, and patterns in books is necessary during early reading stages. As children “memorize” more and more words, they will begin to read them automatically in new books and will be able to progress to more difficult texts.
You are an important part of your child’s education and can greatly impact your child’s progress in school. Incorporate a few or all of the strategies listed to help your kindergarten child in reading. Working with your child in the area of reading can be rewarding for both of you!
Written by Trina Brazille
Look for part 2 in this series for more great ideas. [Coming Soon]
Make sure to visit our Kindergarten Live Event coming on January 25. Expert teachers and administrators will answer your questions live on Facebook. Everything you wanted to know about kindergarten and more. Make sure to visit our Kindergarten Hub as well.
Do you have questions about early childhood reading? Leave your questions in the comment section below.