Most early childhood educators would agree that learning about language is a lifelong process – we begin hearing and decoding words at birth, and continuous growth happens from that moment! But when you specifically ask if preschoolers should be taught to read, you’ll get a wide variety of different answers. The truth is that preschoolers are already learning to read – whether we intentionally introduce activities that support this or not – they notice letters, the ways that these are oriented on the page, how combining them creates words, and that letters can be strung together and used to share information. These are foundational pieces for sure!
My answer to the question about teaching reading in preschool is very nuanced. I definitely believe that we should support language-learning, in all of it’s forms, and I also believe that each child is different and identifying where a child is on the path towards reading independently is the most important thing we can do to determine whether they’re ready for more intentional instruction.
I’ve had entire groups that were more than ready for CVC words and BOB books, I’ve worked with groups where one or two children showed interest and readiness, and I’ve taught groups that really needed that focus to be on letter recognition and sounds. Over the years I’ve found that the best strategy leans on making sure that materials that will engage and challenge children are available, and introducing children to tasks like blending sounds. This helps them see those next steps towards reading, and can inspire them to work really hard on where they’re currently at to get to those next steps if they want to.
This is evident of my overall teaching philosophy – I make things available, and see what direction the children take it, and then support them in that. You can read more about my thoughts on this here! Some of the opportunities that I’m intentional about making available include putting decodable books in my classroom library, labeling classroom objects, sounding out words verbally whenever possible, and introducing CVC words. Children all respond differently to these opportunities, but I’m ensuring that they’ve had some experience with all of this before they see it in kindergarten.
I’m personally a huge fan of using CVC words in the classroom because decoding these words gives children such a sense of accomplishment – they can READ a word! That builds so much confidence! Follow along this week as I share some of my favorite ways to introduce these in the classroom.