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Tips on Teaching Kindergarten and Preschool Kids to Read

by R. Renée Bembry


Beginning the Teaching Process

When commencing the teaching process, sit down with preschoolers in a quiet comfortable setting and completely read the first book you decide to work with, preferably a picture book, if the book is short. For longer books, use your best judgment as to how many pages to read at this stage.

Once you complete the book, or stop at a reasonable point in the book, ask preschoolers to explain the story to you. Listen to everything preschoolers say, but correct them if they misunderstand the story.

Read the story again, only this time, read the story one page at a time; and have preschoolers explain what is “happening in the pictures” after you read each page. The purpose of this is to make certain preschoolers are following the “main ideas” presented on each page of the story. This is especially important if you discover children missed story concepts during the initial reading.

An example of how picture main ideas coincide with verbiage main ideas on each page would be that if page verbiage discusses catching fish from a lake and illustrations on that page depict someone catching fish from a lake children should identify catching fish as a main idea on that page.

Allow children to say anything they want about pictures on the pages. If they fail to include information regarding main ideas in their explanations, coax them by hinting at the main ideas. Sometimes preschoolers simply cannot figure out concepts on their own. Should this happen, simply explain the concepts to them in manners that raises their understanding.

An important point to consider when teaching preschoolers to read is that more than likely children will point out things like the big yellow sun, birds flying, and a dog or other animal when these things are in included in illustrations. Pointing out “objects” is fine, however, objects in and of themselves are not likely to represent a page's complete main idea.

Once children get the hang of “picture telling” stories, have them tell what they “think” is going to happen next by explaining pictures from books you have not read to them. Allow picture story telling to occur page by page the first time you read unread books together. After preschoolers give their perceptions as to what is taking place on each page, read the page, discuss the page, and point out information children "story-told" correctly. Also, note important info children missed in their picture telling.

Following the picture story telling process, many children will be ready to learn the words on the pages. Once children reach this level, parents/teachers should stop moving their pointer fingers along pages to denote words while reading and instead encourage children to point out the words. Parent and teacher reciters should read slowly enough, however to enable preschoolers to keep up as they point.

Helpers should read one sentence at a time when children start reciting the words. After helpers read each sentence, have preschoolers imitate the sentence - remembering to point out each word as they read. When pages have only one sentence, move on to the next page after a sentence is complete. When pages have paragraphs, move on to the next “sentence” in the paragraph until paragraphs are completed.

After reading each page, ask preschoolers if they see words repeated from one page to the next page. Encourage preschoolers to point out repeated words, and ask if they remember them. If they remember the words, move on with the reading. If they do not remember, remind them what the words are, and have them repeat the words again.

Note: The idea here is not for preschoolers to “memorize” whether they read a word before. Allow them to revisit previous pages so that they can search for previously read words.

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