Greetings! You have arrived at Part Four of The FLC First Grader’s Series: Enriching the FLC with Your First Grader’s Reading Skills
Depending on the expectations of your First Grader’s campus, s/he may or may not be reading grade level text.
Most public school systems want their Kindergartners reading at a certain level before going into First Grade. Some private schools feel the same way.
Other schools offer a different approach entirely when preparing a child to read. There are MANY different methods you can try, especially if your child is a reluctant reader.
Reading Rockets cited Understood.org’s article, which listed 11 Methods for teaching reading, especially if your child is struggling with this all-important skill. You can check them out by clicking on the link below:
As a trained Special Education teacher, I used a variety of methods, even when I was teaching in the Gen Ed classroom.
PART FOUR: Enriching Your First Grader’s Reading Skills
So it is with children who learn to read fluently and well:They begin to take flight into whole new worlds as effortlessly as young birds take to the sky. ~ William James
I was, and am, a book eater, I mean reader. I have been devouring books since I was 5 or 6 years old. Not that I didn’t enjoy other recreations as most children do, but reading is a Passion for me. It is one I love to share, especially with children. Teaching a child how to read is one of the most exhilarating things in the world that I can share…..
And like Mr. James says, it’s not just about the actual reading & understanding of the letters, words, sentences, paragraphs & pages. It’s more about the participation in and the inspiration of thoughts, imaginations, inventions, and, yes, “worlds”.
As a child, and now, as an adult, my inquiring nose can usually be found in one of many genres of books.
How I Learned to Read
The other day I read an interesting & nostalgic memory shared by Theresa, a teacher & fellow-lover of reading. She has a site called Theresa’s Teaching Tidbits. While introducing her great nephew’s reading progressions, she, also, offered her ” Becoming A Reader” experiences as a child. Here’s the link to her post:
It sparked some recollections in me as well. My parents were both avid readers. My mother, especially, loved reading to us ~ we, who could sit still long enough, loved it, too. She read patiently, deliberately, interactively, and always with lots of expression. Lots of books, both novels & informative as well as STACKS of comic books were always in our home. Saturday trips to the library (a favorite of mine) were a frequent part of our errands.
And let me be clear……this reader-nurturing environment does NOT guarantee you’ll raise a Book-Lover. Several of my siblings (and my child), bright as they are, had “better things to do than sit around and read a book!”
However, college & life influenced changes in that opinion…….
Reading at my school was taught with the Dick, Jane, Puff & Spot primers (yes, I’m that old) in small reading groups named Bluebirds, Red Robins, etc. ; spelling lists with sentences & book reports~written with oral presentation (YIKES!).
My parents’ expectations & participation with teachers ensured all of their children were reading on or above grade level. No foolishness allowed!
Teaching methods have changes A LOT since then (more on that later), except, of course, within the setting of your child’s First Classroom ~ at home.
My Child Can Read……When S/He HAS TO DO IT
Feel fortunate s/he can read. Promoting ENJOYMENT during the read, especially with a very, physically-active child & the instant gratification of tech EVERYWHERE can be a challenge….
To quote Dr. Frank Serafini, a professor of Literacy Education & Children’s Literature~
There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who haven’t found the right book.
In addition to reading with your child since in utero, having lots of different types of reading material (yes, magazines & comic books count) lying around, visiting the library, and reading yourself (WHEW!!), there are a few other things you can do (as if that’s not enough…). Dr. Tiffani Chen, the author of School Sense & creator of the site edboost.org has some other suggestions (with a few of my ideas thrown in). Just click on the PDF link below:
You know you can always ask your child’s classroom teacher and/or your school’s media specialist for some assistance as well.
well….I Don’t Always Understand What the Teacher’s Reading Terms Mean…
As teachers we get very comfortable with our “environmental language.” Met with the blanks stares of our students usually gives us the visual clues we need to re-state and/or define some of the vocabulary words we educators use constantly all day long.
Do NOT hesitate to ask your child’s teacher to do the same for you. There are quite a few of them, like Fluency, Tracking, High Frequency Words, etc. So, instead of being shy and/or confused during a parent-teacher conference regarding his/he reading progress…..
I created a PDF list of the Literacy terms educators use to define reading elements with explanations for you, written in the sequence I use in my Reading Program. Click on the link below:
Your First Grader has a long, on-going list of Reading Goals to achieve by the end of the year…….
TARGET: Your Child As An Independent Reader
If your child attends a school, public or private, that has adopted the Common Core, you’re probably familiar with the academic objectives & expectations his/her teacher uses to guide instruction.
Although your BIG First Grader continues to enjoy being read to, s/he is becoming more interested in the actual skill of how-to read. Soon, you will be read to by her/him!
His/her listening & speaking language skills are growing at an almost accelerated pace. S/he understands opposite concepts & how things are the same & different. S/he uses adjectives, adverbs & prepositions when expressing thoughts.
LinguiSystems, Inc. compiled a Communication Milestones Guide as a general growth & developmental reference for reading & writing during your child’s year in First Grade.
Beginning of First Grade
- Identifies more & more sight words with accuracy
- Begins to decode new words with more independence
- Uses a variety of reading strategies to increase comprehension
- Reads aloud & retells familiar stories easily
End of First Grade
- Recognizes 100 sight words
- Understands words make up sentences
- Reads & comprehends grade level material fluently
Common Core basics for Reading is divided into 3 areas:
- Understanding & locating Key Ideas & Details when reading grade level Literature (Fiction) & Informational Text (Nonfiction)
- Identifying & explaining the content structure of Literature & Informational Text
- Knowing & applying the reading skills of phonological awareness, phonics (spelling), word recognition & fluency
The National PTA has written a downloadable PDF Parents’ Guide to Student Success, which you can access by clicking on the link below:
Keep reading for how~my~students~learn~to~read “skeleton” formula……
My “Skeleton” Reading Skills Formula Sequence
Reading a book is like looking through a window. ~ Zetta Hupf
Or the “bare bones”……. in baseball lingo:
The Warm-Up/On Deck
- Sight Words & Phrases
- Fluency Phrases
- Phonetic Structures
The Pitch/In the Box
- Picture Walk
- Silent Read with Vocabulary Search
- Vocabulary Definitions
At Bat/The Swing
- The Read
- Fluency Check
- Student Inquiry
In Scoring Position
- Student Retell/Key Elements included?
- Comprehension Q & A if any missed on the retell
- Independent, Hands-on project
Sound like a lot???? Actually it depends on the levels of each reader. After assessment, I use the areas of strength to support & promote the areas that need more stability.
A Quick Beginning
Prepare your emergent reader’s brain with his/her current, leveled Sight Word review. Whether you’re pointing to the word(s) or s/he is handing you known Sight Word cards, this “warm up” activity is a effective way to begin the Reading Circle. Each word should be recognized in seconds without needing to be decoded. I use Dolch’s Sight Words & Phrases. This PDF link includes Sentences as well.
Liz, a teacher, parent & creator of the site “The Happy Teacher” shares lots of sight word games you can play with your child as a “practice” for these words. Here’s the link to these activities:
The next quick, beginning warm-up addresses 2 skills together: Fluency & High Frequency Words. Here’s a downloadable, copy & print PDF list:
The Curriculum Corner offers reading-leveled Fluency sentences choices, using Fry’s 500 High Frequency Words list as a downloadable PDF. An assessment tracker is included. Here’s the link to this very helpful resource:
BLB Shop has a collection of High Frequency Word games. Just click on the link below:
What Is Fluency?
Fluency is the skill affected by the speed, accuracy & expression of your child’s oral reading. Here’s a downloadable PDF resource for A Parent Guide to Understanding FLUENCY as a Reading Skill:
The accuracy of words being read is built on your child’s ability to use these 2 skills: decoding & context clues.
What Are Decoding Skills & How Are They Used?
Your child’s Decoding Skills rely heavily on her/his Phonological Awareness Skills. How s/he tries to figure out a new, unknown word during reading depends on what s/he has mastered regarding the letters & their sounds.
Need to know what your child knows in the phonological realm?
An educational site, Heggerty, has created a group of serious, Phonemic Awareness Assessments, complete with how-to-administer instructions. It has downloads for grade levels PreK and above. Just click on the link below to select a downloadable PDF:
BLB Shop has several games & activities for strengthening your First Grader’s Phonological Awareness Skills.
- Beginning & Ending Letter Sounds in Words:
- Word Families
Becky, a parent, reading specialist & author of the Fabulous Reading Resource site: “This Reading Mama” shares a BUNCH of Phonological Awareness tools on the link: https://thisreadingmama.com/ultimate-list-free-phonics-activities/
Helloooooo…….Are We Reading A Story Yet?!?
I know this sounds like A LOT of prep before getting to the book, but all this groundwork is building confidence in your young reader.
Once you form a “getting ’round to reading” routine, this predictable~prep pattern will become a successful stepping stone your beginning reader expects. S/he, even, looks forward to its repetition & will remind you if you forget something.
Okay…….time for a Picture Walk. This is a confidence & comprehension builder. Your child will actually delight in his/her ability to predict & understand a new story just by carefully studying the pictures. Here’s downloadable PDF guide for Going on A Picture Walk with Your Child: A Pre-Reading Tool :
Onto understanding & defining the Vocabulary element……
Solving the Mystery of Those New Vocabulary Words
A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket. ~ Chinese Proverb
Many new vocabulary words can be understood using context clues, that is, reading the understood words before & after the unknown word to solve its meaning.
I have found that after the Picture Walk, some readers enjoy reading silently to see if the predictions they made are true.
As another pre-reading strategy for understanding, I make a list of vocabulary words I think may be new & challenging. Of course, a new word in isolation can be difficult to define, but you’d be surprised to learn what your First Grader knows.
A vocabulary word can be heard & correctly understood, spoken with accuracy, and, even, read exactly. Applying, or using the word during writing or as an answer to comprehension questions is another skill altogether.
Organizing words into groups can be an effective way to understand vocabulary words. BLB Shop has a game for learning this Critical Thinking skill. Check it out by clicking on the link below:
I, also, created a downloadable PDF Parent Guide for helping your beginning reader learn & use New Vocabulary Words:
Need some other ideas for keeping those big, new words in your child’s usable vocabulary? Lisa Van Gemert, teacher & author of the site, “Gifted Guru” has some fun ideas.
Now for the FUN part!!!!!
Reading a new story is a very exciting activity. Using picture clues & context clues gives your beginning reader the tools s/he need to recognize words accurately, fluently & with understanding.
Decoding Skills play a huge part in the flow and comprehension of the text. Like a mystery, a new, unknown word can be daunting (YIKES!) or challenging (WAIT~I GOT THIS!). There are several ways your young (and older) reader can “attack” and succeed.
And, YES, I created a downloadable PDF Parent Guide for Helping Your Child Use Decoding Skills:
Does your child want to reread the story? How about taking turns, page by page? This activity will reinforce the understanding of the text as well as give you the opportunity to model fluency & expression.
Was S/he Thinking About What S/he Was Reading?
Understanding the question is half the answer. ~ Socrates
WOW! What a beautiful read!
Most emergent readers take great pride in the ability to “read” & decode all the words in a story. However……
Some readers struggle with Thinking While Reading….
Is your child asking questions before, during & after reading the story? If so, YAY! That means s/he is Thinking While Reading.
If s/he has been thinking & understanding what s/he is reading, his/her re-tell of the story should be fairly accurate.
Re-telling the story in a sequence might be a little difficult, so, listen, first. Jumping into the plot, or actions of the story may be where s/he begins.
You can use prompting questions, such as: What happened at the beginning of the story? Then, what happened? Why did that happen? and so on.
Need a little guidance? Here’s a downloadable PDF you can use to help your child understand what s/he is reading:
Here are some great Post-Reading ideas shared by Alison, a literacy specialist, consultant & author of the website: “Learning at the Primary Pond.”
AND…….. here are 50 book-reads for First Graders recommended by Lindsay Barrett on the site, “We Are Teachers”:
My Child…….Almost…..HATES to Read….
You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book. ~ Dr. Seuss
There are MANY reasons your child, or anybody, is reluctant to read, even, though you’ve been reading to him/her since s/he was born and s/he likes listening to you read….
- Start misbehaving when it is her/his turn to read ?
- Say reading gives him/her a headache or makes her/his eyes hurt ?
- Think reading and/or its assignment is stupid ?
- Say reading is boring ?
- Get confused and/or lost during his/her reading ?
- Say s/he doesn’t understand the content being read ?
Here’s a Help! My Child HATES to Read downloadable PDF list of tips & ideas for you to try with your Reluctant Reader:
BLB’s Library has a Resource that might help you navigate your Non-Reader into the Reading World:
Sometimes, it’s the book, NOT the reader.
I Want to Read THIS Book to You !
Most children, Reluctant Readers included, LOVE to read a book to another, usually younger, child.
Offering a variety of choices within a genre can spark your Reluctant Reader’s interest. Check out these options from BLB’s Resource Library:
Repetitive pattern books with predictable text can coax the most reluctant reader into reading. Here’s a list from BLB’s Resource Library:
Here are another Predictable Book List:
AND, if you & your child prefer a more DIY approach to books, I created a downloadable PDF with Sentence stems to get you started:
If you’ve read to the end of this post ~ Thank You! I hope you found some information that was helpful. Your First Grader deserves every opportunity to continue his/her education in the excited way s/he has approached learning this year. Reading is a MAJOR key to his/her success ! Let me know if I can help!
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