written by: Kara Bietz
• edited by: Amanda Grove
• updated: 4/5/2012
Reading? In preschool? Yes! There are many different types of activities you can plan for a preschool classroom that will prepare children for learning the mechanics of reading and phonics. These reading activities will give them the foundation necessary to become independent readers.
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One of the basic reasons for planning a daily circle time activity with your preschool class is to provide some time to read aloud to them. Introducing children to the printed word, richly illustrated picture books and well-written stories will instill in them a lifelong love of reading. Children will begin to understand the rhythm of language, the timing of appropriate dialogue and story comprehension when you read aloud to them daily. Since listening to a story is a very passive activity, add a few active moments to your reading time to keep children actively engaged and their bodies and minds moving together. Browse through some of these ideas to make circle time your preschooler's favorite time of day.
As children begin to understand the basics of printed language, we refer to them as emergent readers. Some of the basics children will need to understand are that print goes from left to right and from the top to the bottom of the page, that letters are symbols that stand for different sounds, that putting together letters in a certain formation creates a word and that several words in a string makes a sentence. While this may all seem very simple to an adult, for a child these discoveries are important milestones to their becoming successful independent readers. One of the most important things you can do as a teacher to ensure that children are meeting all the milestones to be considered an emergent reader is to provide a print-rich preschool environment. Label things in your classroom, provide ample amounts of books, magazines and other written materials for children to explore on their own and be sure to read, read, read! Here is some more information on emergent readers that you may find useful:
Now that you understand the importance of circle time as well as the nitty gritty of emergent curriculum, it is time to take a look at some great ideas for reading activities. Reading is a linear process for children, beginning with understanding the nuances of printed language, and eventually ending with children being able to read independently. Learning to read must also be an active learning opportunity, meaning that children cannot be expected to learn how to read only through rote memorization, or sitting still and listening to a teacher speak. The more children are actively engaged in the learning process, the deeper their understanding of the material will be. Try some of these ideas for active learning for your emergent readers.
Providing a stellar reading curriculum for your preschool class is no easy task. You will need to understand how children's literacy skills develop, and keep a close eye on your students for signs that they will soon be learning to read fluently. Also keep in mind that all children develop differently and while one student will be ready for easy readers before they leave pre-K, other students will just be beginning to recognize the letters in their names. Both situations are appropriate for preschoolers, and children should be allowed to develop at their own rate. Provide opportunities for success as well as activities which will challenge students for all of the children in your classroom. This last collection of articles will help you do just that.
Preschool teachers are charged with the task of introducing children to the written word, explaining the mechanics of reading to children and providing them with a solid foundation for independent reading. Though the tasks may seem monumental, keep in mind that children have a natural curiosity for books, pictures and stories. Providing an environment rich in print, reading aloud each day and planning fun and engaging activities for children will all help them on their journey to becoming successful readers. A strong preschool reading curriculum will provide all children with an excellent background in the basics of reading and literacy.