Phonemic awareness

Teaching Letters in Kindergarten

Teacher question:

Our kindergarten is using a reading program that has some wonderful lessons. However, we also feel that the pacing doesn't match current expectations for kindergarten students. For example, the program doesn't introduce high frequency words until December and it only teaches 25 words for the entire year. The first lesson for teaching letter names doesn't come until December. What does current research say about when letters, sounds, and sight words should be introduced in kindergarten?

Shanahan response:

Does Preschool Improve Later Literacy Achievement?

Here we go again.

Last week, Dale Farran and a team of researchers at the University of Tennessee concluded that preschool education gets kids off to a great academic start, but by the end of kindergarten the results start to wear off. And, by the end of second grade you can’t even tell that the kids had attended preschool or not.

That suggests that preschool education is a lousy investment — if the goal is to improve students’ later reading and math achievement.

11 Ways Parents Can Help Their Children Read

Parents often ask how they can help their children learn to read; and it’s no wonder that they’re interested in this essential skill. Reading plays an important role in later school success. One study even demonstrates that how well 7-year-olds read predicts their income 35 years later!

Here are 11 practical recommendations for helping preschoolers and school-age students learn to read.

Is Rhyming Ability Important in Reading?

Our district is wrestling with how much emphasis to give rhyming as an early literacy skill. We had previously downplayed rhyming as a necessary focus but the new CA ELA/ELD Framework and CCSS where rhyming is specifically called out has resurfaced old questions.

What Is the Proper Sequence to Teach Reading Skills?

Years ago, when the National Reading Panel (NRP) report came out, Congress tried to impose a national literacy sequence on American schools. Their plan only allowed phonemic awareness instruction until kids could fully segment words. Then the law would let us teach phonics… but no fluency until the word sounding was completed. Eventually we’d even get to comprehension — at least for the most stalwart boys and girls who hung in there long enough.

A very ambitious plan; one that suggests a clear developmental sequence in how reading abilities unfold.

Teach handwriting. Really!

Richard Gentry and Steve Graham reaffirm the research about the importance of spelling and handwriting instruction in a new white paper. I'll write about the spelling research in a separate post, this one will focus on handwriting.

Ranting about RAN

Lots of kids with reading difficulties have trouble on measures of rapid automatized naming (RAN). RAN tasks measure the time taken for a child to name alphabet letters, digits, colors or common objects presented in a random order. Poorer readers consistently perform more slowly on automatized naming tasks.

Knock, knock. Who's there? Jokes and riddles.

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Banana who?
Banana in my cereal.

Yep. That's our six year old at the dinner table. She so desperately wants to make up her own side-splitting knock knock jokes, but she's not quite there yet. She loves jokes and all things silly, but she's just not at the point of being able to come up with her own word play to make up a (really) funny one.

What is a high-quality preschool?

Around our town, parents of preschoolers are busy observing in classrooms and filling out lengthy application forms for next year's preschool. Most of our preschools have a $25–$40 application fee and waiting lists a mile long, so it's a process that many undertake cautiously and anxiously.

Dyslexia: A primer

I love the Florida Center for Reading Research. The center is directed by Barbara Foorman and Joe Torgesen. And no one that works there must need sleep! They're always cranking out really good reports and publications. It's one of the first places I go when researching something.


"The things I want to know are in books. My best friend is the man who'll get me a book I [haven't] read." — Abraham Lincoln