Teaching reading in the early, emergent literacy years can be so difficult. You automatically want to assume that all kids are on the same level and can benefit from learning the same thing. In reality, some kids enter kindergarten not knowing any of their letters, while other children can already read as well as some second graders. I happened to be on the more advanced end of that spectrum. I remember reading very well in preschool. This just goes to show how important differentiation is. How can you prepare something that reaches all of these different reading levels?
Personally, I am a firm believer in beginning to promote literacy at a very young age, like in preschool. A variety of different, simple things can really increase literacy naturally in children, from reading stories out loud regularly, having a classroom library, and to making books and writing materials available for kids to choose during their free time. This is something that I certainly plan to have in my classroom, along with a few other different centers.
Being a Language Arts major, this is the stuff I’m really interested in. I want to get the kids excited about reading, so I hope I can design units that can use great, rich texts to do this for them. I also plan to have a literacy-rich classroom where literacy tools surround the children. This includes labels, signs, posters, papers, etc. Another important thing to do is really work on orally discussing and then recording ideas that were talked about. Reading aloud can help with these two skills.
Before any of this, though, we often forget that we have to teach them the basic concepts of print. Can they recognize the front and back cover of a book? Where is the title and the author? They also need to know that we read from left to right and top to bottom. Other basic building blocks include that we have letters that make up words that make up sentences, words are composed of sounds, and letters all have specific sounds. Reading is meaningful and they need to learn how to construct meaning from these things.
All children learn and acquire these skills at different rates. If the child hasn’t had opportunities to acquire these skills, of course they’re not going to know them! This is where it is the job of the teacher to teach these skills and determine the best way to do that.