What Happens in Kindergarten Reading: Spring
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The end of the school year is approaching. With first grade looming ahead, the last few months of kindergarten are crucial for your child's continued reading success. Many parents think of kindergarten as "the reading year" and it's no wonder—teachers typically cover a lot of ground in this first official year of school—transforming students into beginning readers by kindergarten graduation.
By springtime, you’ve most likely had conversations with the teacher about how your child is progressing, and you probably know which areas of reading your child excels in and which areas require more work. You've pored over progress reports and report cards and may even have some informal goals in your mind for where you're hoping your child will be by year's end. This is a great time to work on reading skills at home and to do a little inventory check, to be sure those first grade skills are in place. As you work on those goals, it's important to keep in mind what's happening in the classroom.
While all schools are different, there's a set of reading skills most teachers cover from Spring to kindergarten graduation. Here's what's typical in reading during the final months of the school year:
1. Mastery of Letter Recognition and Corresponding Sounds: With just a few more months to go, the teacher will more than likely be triple- and quadruple-checking to make sure that every student in the class knows every letter and sound in the alphabet. She’ll challenge her kindergarten students with tricky sound discrimination tasks (like listening for the beginning or ending sounds in words), and make sure each student has an awareness of how to blend the sounds they know. Want to help? Here's a great way to practice at home.
2. Sound Manipulation: What happens if you change the vowel sound in hat from an a to an o? Can you change a consonant in the word house to make it say mouse? These are sound manipulation skills. Teachers use all kinds of tools and tricks like magnetic letters and flipping charts to show kindergarteners how sounds can be moved around or swapped to make new words. While teachers begin working on sound manipulation earlier in the year, these skills can only truly bloom when a child has a mastery of letters and the sounds they make. So the end of the year is an ideal time for sound manipulation. Check our kindergarten reading activities for hands-on ideas to use at home.
3. Vowel Sounds and Middle Sounds: Wintertime was spent teaching kids to recognize the beginning sounds of words, early spring was spent perfecting those ending sounds. Now what? The trickiest part: what goes in the middle! Often middle sounds are vowel sounds, and each vowel has more than one sound it can make. Sticky, right? By May, your reader will be more than ready to handle middle sounds and he'll spend the rest of the year growing even more comfortable with them.
4. High Frequency Words: You may be wondering by now if that list of "high frequency" or "sight" words, the most commonly used words in the English language, will ever end. Depending on what list of sight words your child’s school is using, it could go on for years to come, so get comfortable! The goal for these sight words is that they'll be instantly recognizable to your child after only a quick glance, so it’s basically a memorization game. As the year draws to a close, expect to see lots of review of the basic sight words, as well as some new additions to the list, especially longer high frequency words. Want to practice sight words at home? Click here for a fun sight words game.
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