Are you ready to teach beginning reading and writing?
In beginning reading during the early reading and writing stage, words start to look recognizable. Children become more confident in their abilities. They learn to be more versatile and quick at reading and writing.
Five-year-old Kayla is in the early reading and writing stage. Here are some of the things she is learning:
- She can break words apart into individual sounds and put them back together quite easily. She does get stuck on some difficult blends like "tr" and "gr.”
- She understands a great deal about books. She knows how to point to individual words, letters, or spaces. She knows the correct direction to read the words and where to go to start the next line.
- Kayla recognizes all of the basic punctuation marks. She uses a period at the end of a sentence most of the time. Once in a while she will use another punctuation mark.
- She can use her knowledge of sounds in reading and writing. At this time, writing comes more easily to Kayla than reading does. She can figure out a way to write nearly everything--even big words--and make it understandable to others. For example, she wrote a note about St. Patrick's Day. She wrote "The leperkan has lost his gold. Folo the path to help him faynd it."
- In reading, Kayla is learning more phonics rules. She loves reading words with short vowel sounds and organizing them into word families (can, man, ran or pet, met, vet). She can use her phonics knowledge in reading, but sometimes she needs a little prompting to notice the letters that will best help her sound out a word.
- Kayla has memorized about 40 common words. She uses these in reading. It makes her reading more fluent and quick.
- She can use the same words in writing. Some of them she has memorized how to spell correctly, and some she spells using inventive spelling.
- She loves to write letters, lists, journal entries, cards, and stories. She can type emails and make books.
- Kayla has a high level of vocabulary and nearly correct language structure. However, she is still learning. For example, she overheard someone say that he was "blown away" by looking at a house. Kayla interpreted this to mean that the house was blown away. She felt very sorry for the people in the house (until she learned that "blown away" is an expression and the house was still intact).
Like Kayla, children in this beginning reading and writing stage are learning a great deal about literacy. They can read and write much more independently. They can reread and fix problems and use letter/sound knowledge to figure out new words. It is exciting and motivating to realize that they are really becoming readers and writers!
At this beginning reading level, most of the work of emergent reading and writing is spent on learning phonics. Phonemic awareness and phonological awareness are important, and should be worked on in conjunction with phonics instruction. As children learn to hear the sounds, they can put the letters together that make those sounds.
Concepts about print are also important to work on, but the time spent on these concepts should be only a small amount.
Sight words need to be learned at the beginning reading stage to increase reading fluency. Many of these very useful words do not follow phonetic rules, so they must be memorized as a whole unit. Others are just used so frequently that it is not efficient to sound them out. As children increase in their ability to read and write, the number of high-frequency words that they have memorized will grow. But the time spent on learning high-frequency words should be minimal.
The bulk of time for learning beginning reading and writing skills needs to be spent on phonics. This knowledge should be applied equally to reading and writing. Children must learn about blending words--putting individual sounds together to make words. They learn to do this orally, then with letters. They also must learn about segmenting words--taking apart a word into individual sounds and letters. If these beginning reading skills have been developed through phonological and phonemic awareness practice, adding in the letters should not be a difficult step. But it will still take time and a lot of practice!
Oral language development also must not be neglected. But oral language is best done through real, engaging activities. This gives the children something exciting to talk about and new understanding to open up new vocabulary and ideas. Science and social studies concepts lend themselves very well to oral language development.
There are six skill areas that are important for early literacy development in the beginning reading process.
Note: A child may be at one stage of development for one skill and another stage for another skill. It is natural for children to learn different things at different paces. Pay attention to what the child can do and what the child seems ready to learn. This gives the best indication of which level the child is on.
Vocabulary and Oral Language
Concepts About Print
For all of the stages of emergent literacy, click on the links below.
Awareness and Exploration
Experimental Reading and Writing
Transitional Reading and Writing
Competent Reading and Writing