The Reading Writing Connection
As preschool students learn to read, they are also learning to write. This is where preschool writing and reading strategies come into play. Integrating the two is essential to helping students gain confidence in what they are learning. When you ask a child to write a simple word such as “CAT,” they must focus on the letter sounds they hear to spell the word. These are the same phonemic skills that they would apply if they were reading the word. When students are writing a word, the spelling is much more natural that when reading. They already have to focus on the individual letter, and not the entire word. Therefore, as your students learn sight words, writing them will only further enhance their understanding of the phonemic make-up of the word. A lack of phonemic skills can have a negative impact on reading and writing.
As children become more adept at writing and want to write stories, you will surely find a connection to stories that they have read. The reading and writing connection is more of a storytelling connection, which helps to teach students how to become good story tellers.
Activities to Strengthen the Connection
As students being to practice letter and sound recognition, writing the letters is also a great way to reinforce the visual and sound recognition. If you make a list of supplies for students, ask that each child have a notebook. If you do not do supply lists at the beginning of the year,
notebooks can be purchased very inexpensively at back to school sales. Use these notebooks as writing journals. As you introduce a letter, provide practice in their writing journal for that letter. It is also helpful if you update parents on what letters you are learning as a class. This may encourage parents to work with their child at home. I often left these notebooks out in the morning for parents to peek at, and they make an excellent work sample come conference time. You can easily see the progression being made and the amount of work that has been completed.
The writing practice may need to begin with making circles and straight lines for beginners. Then as you introduce each letter, provide time for your students to write the letter in their journal, on a marker board, or they can even practice the letters in something fun like shaving cream or sand. When working in their journal, encouraging them to make a picture that starts with that letter will help to make that connection between the written letter and its sound. As more letters are learned, you can then begin to have the students write short words. Again, drawing a picture to go with the word help with memorization.
When it comes to the story telling connection between reading and writing, you will see that a child will tell or write a story that may have a connection to something that they read. At the preschool level where writing is not as advanced, you can have a child dictate a story to an adult, and the adult can write it. The child can then illustrate the story, building again upon the preschool writing and reading connection.
As you progress through the school year, continuing to build upon this reading and writing connection will build your students' confidence as they continue to learn to read and write. Always look to add activities that emphasize the reading writing strategies that you are teaching.
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The best gift you can give your preschoolers is a strong foundation for reading and writing. The Kindergarten curriculum becomes more and more advanced each year, and a strong foundation now in reading and writing will support your students for years to come.
Sources: Personal lesson plans and work with preschoolers.