The key to much communication and education is reading. In order for a person to communicate effectively and acquire new knowledge successfully, they must have proficiency in both written and spoken language. As we age these tasks become automatic, but there are many steps for children to take to gain the fluency they need to continue their learning journey. It is important for educators to be aware of student successes and areas of weakness, and work with every child to help them advance.
Here are some classroom tips that you can use to teach your students to learn to read, and just as importantly, to want to read. Many of these methods blend in classroom time with the evidence-based reading programs developed by Essential Skills.
- Involve More Senses. Each student has a unique way of understanding the world. A teacher’s job is to find just what will work for each student. Reading illustrated story books will engage visual and audio learners, but we shouldn’t stop there. Many children will respond to phoneme awareness lessons when they are sung or chanted. Some kids prefer to spell their names using blocks or stickers. When students practice recently learned concepts using k-3 reading programs from Essential Skills, they will find formats to engage all senses. Colorful illustrations, clear verbal instruction, and tactile practice with keyboard or interactive screens are just a few of the ways these programs can inspire all children to keep at it.
- Highlight and Annotate. As students read, they should be encouraged to highlight words or passages they find difficult or interesting. They can later review or research these to gain greater understanding of the text.
- Chunk Longer Passages. Young children do not have the attention span it may take to absorb a longer story. By breaking down lessons into smaller parts it is easier to assess a particular child’s level of understanding. Essential Skills’ evidence-based k-5 reading programs present students with short stories that gradually progress in length and difficulty as they work through the programs.
- Set Goals. Have your students set their own reading goals and help them accomplish these.
- Discuss Themes. Whole class discussions on common themes should be reflected in students’ individual responses to what they are reading. One effective way to do this is using evidence-based k-5 reading programs from Essential Skills and responding to some theme-based questions or activities based on the stories they have read.
- Real Life Content. Children like fairy tales and fantasy, but you should also offer them text that contains nonfiction issues and problems to solve. The k-3 reading programs from Essential Skills offer a variety of both fiction and non-fiction texts, leveled to the ability of each student.
- Individualize Material. Younger students can have group discussions about the ways a text mirrors or differs from their lives.
- Allow Choices. Essential Skills’ evidence-based reading programs include a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts, allowing students to choose the stories that interest them most. This helps to keep students engaged and motivated to read.