No More Letter of the Week

We cannot write or read without knowing what a letter is and it’s corresponding sound. Knowing letters, the sounds AND that they hold meaning to form a word are critical skills to learn during the early childhood years. The National Early Literacy Panel 2008 informs us that students who demonstrate phonemic awareness and alphabet recognition are more likely to become successful readers. Teaching alphabet knowledge concurrent with phonological awareness has a significant impact on the early development of the concept of language (National Reading Panel 2000; National Early Literacy Panel 2008).
Although there are many different ways to teach the letters of the alphabet that are successful, letter of the week is NOT one of them. Children need repeated, varied and meaningful exposure to the letters. Research by Jones and Reutzel also shows us that the teacher should only provide experiences and practices with no more instruction than needed.
When using the letter of the week approach, we are expending our valuable learning time on only a handful of children. Some of the children already know the letter and others will not learn it that week since it does not yet hold meaning for them. Exposure to all of the letters in fun, hands-on, meaningful activities allows for a natural differentiation of learning and as well as builds the concept of language and meaning of written print.
Some suggestions for teaching the letters of the alphabet include using students names each day in various chants, counting of the letters, comparing them, etc.; pairing letters with phonological awareness instruction in shared reading or writing activities; creating predictable charts with alliterations, reading lots and lots of fun ABC books, including letters in all learning centers such as foam letters in dramatic play to become the pancakes or cookies.
What strategies have you found to be most successful for the teaching of the letters in a fun, holistic, engaging, meaningful way?

Building the Joy of Reading

Kathy Collins and Matt Glover remind us of a critical component of reading instruction for our young learners:
It’s vital that we support young children’s reading in ways that nurture healthy reading identities, that foster an attraction to books and a love of reading, and that teach them how to make meaning in any text they choose, whether or not they can read the words.

—Kathy Collins and Matt Glover, I Am Reading, published by Heinemann

This fostering of a love of reading to connect with others, to gather information, to hear a great story, to laugh, cry or rejoice, etc. starts when a child is born and continues throughout life.
Allison and Watson (1994) in their article, The significance of adult storybook reading styles on the development of young children’s emergent reading, support the idea of reading to infants as young as 0-3 months. They found that the earlier teachers and parents began reading to children, the higher the child’s emergent reading level is at the end of kindergarten. Bredekamp and Copple in the book, Developmentally Appropriate Practice Third Edition, published by NAEYC, share with us that reading aloud to children is a developmentally appropriate practice starting as young as infants. 

Continue reading “Building the Joy of Reading”