Learning to Read

In my combined first and second grade classes for children learning how to read, basal readers were used.Beginning basal readers were carefully selected for those that were most appealing. After the first day of school, every child had a book for Book Time.

The beginners that needed the most help were with my assistant teacher, a parent volunteer, or a second grade volunteer. When second graders were asked to volunteer, many hands would go up. These partners were changed every day so that no one was deprived of Book Time continually. A partner might be listening to one child read and yet could tell another child a word if needed. Partners were tremendous assets for the beginning readers to have one-to-one attention while reading. Sometimes, a second grader with perceptual problems who still had some difficulties would help a beginner, which was a great morale booster and gain a reinforcement of his own skills. Sometimes two beginners at about the same level would be partners together and take turns reading to each other. When one didn’t know a word, often the other would. So, during September second graders might help a beginner for two mornings a week and read his own book the other three. And sometimes in September afternoons, first graders would read to a second grader for a half hour or more. Books were also sent home to be read with a parent and kept until finished.

Much was learned while listening to each beginner. Was she memorizing the words, using phonics learned during Folder Time, or skipping many words – or was she on-task enjoying her book? Was it too hard or too easy? Earl might know most of the words upon finishing his first book and be given the next level book, while Janet might know about half of the words and decide to read it again or be given a different basal reader at the same level, perhaps an easier one. Most children read two to four books of one level before going on. The children who were very ready and strong would start with a more advanced pre-primer and go right through a series, from the three pre-primers to the primer, the 12 book, etc. About the time they were reading at a 22 level, they could read library books as well. Meanwhile, Marty might forget far too many words and would be a candidate for a language experience approach along with Kay who couldn’t manage the words at all. So for the first few days until that program began, Marty and Kay would have a picture book, or another child might read to them.

About the time children were beyond the primer level of a basal reader, they were aware that they should only read selections of interest, skipping others. In fact, to foster independence and responsibility, it was very for a child to make decisions about his own reading. When a child chose his own stories, this lead to mimportant ore enjoyment and it’s this enjoyment of reading that leads to the habit of reading. If a child wants to read, he will read more. Perhaps when children are accomplished readers and have poor comprehension, it’s because they are forced to read material they weren’t interested in.

After participating in Folder Time, a phonics program, some would use phonics to a high or low degree or not at all. Beginning readers fluctuated between periods of fast and slow growth while requiring one-to-one assistance in the beginning stages. A child’s success, however, probably depend as much upon that child’s own motivation, her curiosity, and her great and sometimes overwhelming desire to learn as it does upon the instruction. With materials, guidance, and support provided, each child taught herself to read. Hopefully, through her strengths, every child would progress at her own rate and continue to feel the success and excitement of reading. With materials, guidance, and support provided, each child taught herself  to read.

Read more about my program for early reading in my book, Early Childhood Programs: Opportunities for Academic, Cognitive, and Personal Success.Included is a web site where programs can be downloaded for use in a classroom. Also, see 7 reviews on www.amazon.com

A Child’s Own Book

On the first September morning in my combined first and second grade, I met with each child in the Book Center to choose his own reading book. An accomplished reader chose any book of interest – a picture book, novel, science or library book – to read privately. For beginners, after determining capabilities, they received their first reading book. This was for Book Time which would take place daily for 30 to 40 minutes each day.

Now, how did the beginners and those with perceptual problems learn to read when each one was in a different book? With a child or adult partner. Each progressed in her own way at her own pace. What were those first reading books? They were basal readers. “Basal readers? Horrors!” said some. But they learned how to read very well, some very rapidly, using basal readers with what I called conversational English with a good storyline – interesting stories, poems and articles. Well-written but with a controlled vocabulary. Part of the Book Center had many basal readers in each level with multiple copies from various companies.

One very bright first grader arrived not reading at all. She started with a first pre-primer, more difficult than most and breezed through that so rapidly that she was given choices in third pre-primers. This soon led to choices in the 12 level – and she was an accomplished reader in one month. One month using basal readers.

But she was the only one that accomplished learning how to read that quickly. However, it wasn’t uncommon for others to be reading books of interest very comfortably within four to six months.

Read more about my program for early reading in my book, Early Childhood Programs: Opportunities for Academic, Cognitive, and Personal Success, on page 38. See 7 reviews on www.amazon.com

A Sylvia Ashton-Warner Approach for First Grade

In my combined first and second grade classes, I used a program similar to Sylvia Ashton Warner’s approach for those not able to read in a book. (Ashton-Warner, Sylvia. 1986. Teacher. NY: Simon & Schuster) I usually had about 3 in the group. Every day each child would tell me their favorite word which I would write on a card and give it to them to keep. In the following days, before asking for another favorite word with each child, we would go over her stack of words. Often the other children would start to learn the words of the others. After a time, we would use those words to make up a story which I printed a line or two on a page for the child to illustrate. This became her first reading book. Sometimes there were 3 or 4 of these books before a child was able to read in a pre-primer.

See more about early reading programs  in my book, Early Childhood Programs: Opportunities for Academic, Cognitive, and Personal Success.  Included is a web site where programs can be downloaded for use in a classroom. Also see 7 reviews on www.amazon.com

   Teaching Young Children © Peggy Broadbent 2011 - All Rights Reserved