Reading Development Across Grades

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  • 0:00 Stages of Reading
  • 0:45 Nurture Not Nature
  • 1:40 Kindergarten and First Grade
  • 2:29 Second Grade and Third Grade
  • 3:21 Reading to Learn
  • 4:01 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught history, and has an MA in Islamic law/finance. He has since founded his own financial advice firm, Newton Analytical.

One of the most important transformations that happens in the early grades is the movement from non-readers to readers. In this lesson, we track the development of reading skills throughout the early elementary years.

Stages of Reading

One of the most important skills that an early elementary teacher imparts is the ability to read. Practically every other subject to be studied for the rest of students' lives hinges on it. In fact, the most basic measure of a country's education level is not the percentage of high school graduates or the number of universities but instead the percentage of people who are capable of reading - the literacy rate. In this lesson, we will start with the earliest stages of reading development, noting how it changes as students move through the first few years of school. We will also focus on the importance of the teacher's role, since the teacher is the most impactful factor outside of the student's home life.

Nurture Not Nature

When students first walk into a kindergarten classroom, they have an amazing range of abilities. Some may already be able to read, while some may not even understand the concept of an alphabet. However, it is vital that teachers not place labels on the abilities of students at this point. Instead, start at zero. In the beginning, reading exercises should be relatively straight-forward, with an emphasis on very common words as well as those words in which the pronunciation matches the spelling. Illustration is practically necessary at this point. Also, students should be able to recognize rhyming, which in turn helps them to recognize trends in pronunciation from spelling. If you listen to the songs that most kindergarten classes learn, you'll see that they are heavy in rhymes and relatively short words. The point is to create a level playing field from which to proceed.

Kindergarten and First Grade

Throughout kindergarten, there should be a considerable emphasis on everything we just discussed. Point out that letters have sounds associated with them. Emphasize rhyming and short illustrated works. All of this is in preparation for first grade. By then, students should feel pretty comfortable with the safety zone they have been establishing.

First grade is the time to let students inch towards the deep end. During this stage, students should ideally be able to handle more words on a page. They should also be able to handle the same ideas in greater depth. In kindergarten, a story may involve only a sentence or two per heavily illustrated page. By first grade, a few more sentences with a greater progression of images are possible. In fact, by the end of first grade some students may be able to read even more complex sentence formations.

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