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Learning to Read Begins With YOU
By: Junior Kindergarten Teachers Christie Castagno, Mary Dryden and Diane Vujnich
Junior Kindergarten is where the foundation for all learning at Rossman School begins. We help foster the creation of readers, writers, inventors, scientists, artists, mathematicians, engineers, and more. Creating a reader begins at home by exposing your child to words in print as you snuggle together to enjoy a book. Throughout our school day, we provide as many opportunities as possible to bring good literature to your child.
“In a book, anything can happen!” Just ask anyone in Junior Kindergarten! This is just one of the many things we often talk about as we read aloud to the children from so many different kinds of books, during the course of the school day. But how do we choose the “perfect” story for reading aloud?
The “perfect story” is the one that will draw on a child’s curiosity and emotion. It will contain elements that will, in some way, relate to the child, to their life, to something that they have already experienced or will some day. Especially for young children, it is a story that can help them understand the concept of empathy. Empathy and character are behaviors that are learned as a child is exposed to a story or an actual experience that involves them. A good book will spark conversation about the characters, the time, the place, the conflict, and the resolution.
We bring in geography as we find where it takes place on our map. Is it fiction or nonfiction? The story will be pleasing to the ear — the rhythm, the rhyme, and the voice of the author. The language of the story often brings inquiries and conversations about the vocabulary the author chooses, and the meaning of words in the context of the story. A good book is one that often reminds the listener of another story with a similar plot or storyline. Conversation takes place about similarities and differences between good books.
In Junior Kindergarten, we emphasize that a good book is one that can be read multiple times and you never get tired of it. So much can be learned and details remembered when repetition occurs by reading a story again and again.
Reading aloud to children is something very basic, yet very necessary for a child’s cognitive development. Young children can listen to stories on a higher level of language than they can read. Listening comprehension is a very important part of a child’s language and learning development. Reading aloud to your child will strongly benefit her ability to understand and enjoy a story, regardless of her own reading level. Enjoy the adventure of the story together, as well as the emotions the characters are experiencing.
Reading aloud is something that a child never outgrows. There is something very special about sharing a book that creates a bond between a parent and a child. A small child will crawl up in your lap to snuggle as you read to him. As your child grows and learns, perhaps he will take turns and read to you. As your child’s personality develops, you will seek out books of special interest to him or he may suggest books of interest to you. Reading books that YOU love, as well as the ones your child enjoys will help to keep the joy and interest in this family activity.
Keep reading aloud. The sound of another voice reading can allow your child to be creative while listening — perhaps by coloring, drawing or creating something with her hands. As your child gets older, a good book can help to create conversation about her own social situations or even real world issues that perhaps she cannot understand on her own. Read newspapers and magazine articles. Keep reading aloud.
As winter vacation approaches, and you anticipate packing the car for a road trip, or hopping on a plane, leave the DVD’s and video games at home. Let your child’s imagination travel with a good book to read aloud to you as you travel, or an audio book for the whole family to enjoy and discuss. Demonstrate to your child how you value and appreciate a good book. Set an example by letting them see you reading for enjoyment. Snuggle up and keep reading aloud.
Mem Fox’s Ten Read Aloud Commandments
Spend at least ten wildly happy minutes every single day reading aloud.
Read at least three stories a day: it may be the same story three times. Children need to hear a thousand stories before they can begin to learn to read.
Read aloud with animation. Listen to your own voice and don’t be dull, or flat, or boring. Hang loose and be loud, have fun and laugh a lot.
Read with joy and enjoyment: real enjoyment for yourself and great joy for the listeners.
Read the stories that the kids love, over and over and over again, and always read in the same “tune” for each book: i.e. with the same intonations on each page, each time.
Let children hear lots of language by talking to them constantly about the pictures, or anything else connected to the book; or sing any old song that you can remember; or say nursery rhymes in a bouncy way; or be noisy together doing clapping games.
Look for rhyme, rhythm or repetition in books for young children, and make sure the books are really short.
Play games with the things that you and your child can see on the page, such as letting kids finish rhymes, and finding the letters that start the child’s name and yours, remembering that it’s never work, it’s always a fabulous game.
Never ever teach reading, or get tense around books.
Read aloud every day because you just love being with your child, not because it’s the right thing to do. This is as important for fathers as it is for mothers!
Rossman School, nestled on a 20-acre campus in Creve Coeur, is an independent preparatory school for students in Junior Kindergarten (four years old) through Grade 6. The school’s mission is to provide a strong, well-balanced education in a nurturing school community committed to excellence. Dedicated to developing personal, nurturing relationships with each child, Rossman’s experienced educators provide a solid foundation in academics, athletics and arts while emphasizing strong character development and leadership skills. Request a free Rossman School brochure here.