Young children move through three stages as they learn to read and write: emergent, beginning, and fluent (Juel, 1991). During the emergent stage, young children gain an understanding of the communicative purpose of print, and they move from pretend reading to reading predictable books and from using scribbles to simulate writing to writing patterned sentences, such as I see a bird. I see a tree. I see a car. The focus of the second stage, beginning reading and writing, is on children’s growing ability to use phonics to “crack the alphabetic code” in order to decode and spell words. Children also learn to read and write many high-frequency words and write several sentences to develop a story or other composition. In the fluent stage, children are automatic, fluent readers, and in writing, they develop good handwriting skills, spell many high-frequency words correctly, and organize their writing into multiple-paragraph compositions.
A list of instructional recommendations for each of the three stages of reading and writing development is presented in the table below.
- Use environmental print.
- Include literacy materials in play centers.
- Read aloud to children.
- Read big books and poems on charts using shared reading.
- Introduce the title and author of books before reading.
- Teach directionality and letter and word concepts using big books.
- Encourage children to make predictions and text-to-self connections.
- Have children retell and dramatize stories.
- Have children respond to literature through talk and drawing.
- Have children manipulate sounds using phonemic awareness activities.
- Use alphabet-learning routines.
- Take children’s dictation using the Language Experience Approach.
- Teach 20–24 high-frequency words.
- Post words on a word wall.
- Have children use crayons for drawing and pencils for writing.
- Encourage children to use scribble writing or write random letters if they can’t do more conventional writing.
- Teach handwriting skills.
- Use interactive writing for whole-class and small-group writing projects.
- Have children write their names on sign-in sheets each day.
- Have children write their own names and names of classmates.
- Have children inventory or make lists of words they know how to write.
- Have children “write the classroom” by making lists of familiar words they find in the classroom.
- Have children use frames such as “I like ...” and “I see a ...” to write sentences.
- Encourage children to remember what they write so they can read it.
- Read charts of poems and songs using choral reading.
- Read leveled books using guided reading.
- Provide daily opportunities to read and reread books independently.
- Teach phonics concepts and rules.
- Teach children to cross-check using the cueing systems.
- Teach the 100 high-frequency words.
- Point out whether texts are stories, informational books, or poems.
- Teach predicting, connecting, cross-checking, and other strategies.
- Teach the elements of story structure, particularly beginning, middle, and end.
- Have children write in reading logs and participate in grand conversations.
- Have children take books home to read with parents.
- Use interactive writing to teach concepts about print and spelling rules.
- Provide daily opportunities to write for a variety of purposes and using different genres.
- Introduce the writing process.
- Teach children to develop a single idea in their compositions.
- Teach children to proofread their compositions.
- Teach children to spell the 100 high-frequency words.
- Teach contractions.
- Teach capitalization and punctuation skills.
- Have children use computers to publish their writing.
- Have children share their writing from the author’s chair.
- Have children participate in literature circles.
- Have children participate in reading workshop.
- Teach about genres and literary features.
- Involve children in author studies.
- Teach children to make text-to-self, text-to-world, and text-to-text connections.
- Have children respond to literature through talk and writing.
- Have children participate in writing workshop.
- Teach children to use the writing process.
- Teach children to revise and edit their writing.
- Teach paragraphing skills.
- Teach spelling rules.
- Teach homophones.
- Teach synonyms.
- Teach root words and affixes.
- Teach children to use a dictionary and a thesaurus.
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