Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Importance of Sight Words in Kindergarten


In classrooms across America, the development of sight word recognition continues to be a top priority when instructing emerging and beginning readers.

The purpose of reading is to construct meaning from text. This “meaning” is dependent on the rapid, automatic, and effortless recognition of words. According to Patricia Cunningham in Phonics They Use, “In order to read and write fluently with comprehension and meaning, children must be able to automatically read and spell the most frequent words. As the store of words they can automatically read and spell increases, so will their speed and comprehension.” (Cunningham, 2000). Sight word recognition improves reading fluency and automaticity, allowing the student to focus their efforts on the more mentally demanding task of reading comprehension.

Students become efficient and confident readers and their attention can now center on decoding words that carry meaning to the text. This allows students to focus their efforts on “reading to learn” rather than “learning to read.” As a result, their ability to verbally recall and organize information from text drastically improves. These students not only begin to develop reading comprehension skills, but also become more accurate, detailed, and organized when verbally recalling the information.

We must remember that reading is one of the most critical skills students learn.
One of the most important goals in teaching young students to read is making sure
they are completely proficient with Sight Words.
Sight Words (sometimes called the Dolch Words) are some of the most frequently
used words in the English language. Even though they number only about 200, Sight
Words comprise approximately 50 to 70 percent of any given general, non-
technical text. Therefore, teaching Sight Words as early as possible is considered
a crucial part of elementary education.
There are two additional reasons why it is important to give Sight Words an extra
priority. Firstly, phonetic analysis can't be applied to many of the Sight Words.
Secondly, quite a few of the Sight Words cannot be taught through pictures (e.g.
"if", "soon", "but", etc.).
Even though it may take a considerable effort for children to learn the entire
Sight Word List, it is well worth it. Having the ability to recognize these words can
dramatically increase confidence and improve reading proficiency of the beginning
Because complete fluency with Sight Words is the foundation of literacy, a variety
of techniques are used to teach them to children. Repetition and practice are very
important in making Sight Words recognition automatic. Students should practice
sight words nightly until they recognize all 200 words on the Sight Word list.
Below you will find an online resource to use to help ensure that your child builds
this important foundation for literacy.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Why Preschool matters!

How important is preschool?
"There's increasing evidence that children gain a lot from going to preschool," says Parents advisor Kathleen McCartney, PhD, dean of Harvard Graduate School of Education, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "At preschool, they become exposed to numbers, letters, and shapes. And, more important, they learn how to socialize -- get along with other children, share, contribute to circle time."
Statistics show that a majority of kids attend at least one year of preschool: According to the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), more than two-thirds of 4-year-olds and more than 40 percent of 3-year-olds were enrolled in a preschool in 2005. "Children who attend high-quality preschool enter kindergarten with better pre-reading skills, richer vocabularies, and stronger basic math skills than those who do not," says NIEER director W. Steven Barnett, PhD.
"Every child should have some sort of group experience before he starts kindergarten," says Amy Flynn, director of New York City's Bank Street Family Center. Music and gymnastics classes are great, but what preschools do that less formal classes don't is teach kids how to be students. Your child will learn how to raise her hand, take turns, and share the teacher's attention. What's more, she'll learn how to separate from Mommy, who often stays in a music or gym class. All of this makes for an easier transition to kindergarten. "Kindergarten teachers will tell you that the students who are ready to learn are those who come into school with good social and behavior-management skills," Smith says.
In fact, educators have so recognized the importance of giving kids some form of quality early education that about 40 states now offer state-funded pre-K programs.
What will my child learn?
In addition to strengthening socialization skills -- how to compromise, be respectful of others, and problem-solve -- preschool provides a place where your child can gain a sense of self, explore, play with her peers, and build confidence. "Kids in preschool discover that they are capable and can do things for themselves -- from small tasks like pouring their own juice and helping set snack tables to tackling bigger issues like making decisions about how to spend their free time," says Angela Capone, PhD, senior program manager at Southwest Human Development's Arizona Institute for Childhood Development, in Phoenix. "Plus, 4- and 5-year-olds have begun asking some wonderful questions about the world around them -- what happens to the water after the rain? Do birds play? Quality preschools help children find answers through exploration, experimentation, and conversation."
 But what about learning his ABCs?
"Young children can certainly learn letters and numbers, but to sit kids down and 'teach' them is the wrong way to do it," says Smith. "They learn best through doing the kinds of activities they find interesting -- storytime, talking to their teachers about stars, playing with blocks." To help kids learn language and strengthen pre-reading skills, for instance, teachers might play rhyming games and let kids tell stories. Keep in mind that for small children, school is all about having fun and acquiring social skills -- not achieving academic milestones. "Kids need to be imaginative and to socialize -- that's what fosters creative, well-rounded people. It's not whether they can read by age 4 or multiply by 5," says Flynn. An ideal curriculum? Parading around in dress-up clothes, building forts, and being read to.

April 20, 2018

Wrapping Up the School Year The end of the school year brings the expected joy at finishing another year, and perhaps some sadne...