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Easy ways to teach your Kindergartener reading, writing skills

December 12, 2013


Kindergarten is when children begin to learn to read and write,  the fundamental skills of literacy. The Common Core educational goals for Kindergarten students focus on this basic skill set. Here are some examples of the tasks your child should be able to master by the end of his or her Kindergarten year.

  • Name upper and lower case letters.
  • Write upper and lower case letters.
  • Identify the sounds of letters.
  • Ask and answer fact-based questions about a text he or she has read.
  • Recognize sight words such as a, the, from, is.
  • Articulate an opinion about a text and be able to retell its story.
  • Learn to listen to others, take turns, and refrain from interrupting.

Supporting your Kindergartner in learning Common Core concepts in English/Language Arts can be as simple as reading together or playing a few fun games.

Read With Your Child

Reading with your child for 15 minutes a day is a superb way to build a range of language skills. Bedtime is a classic time to read stories together, but you can also make it part of an after-school routine. While reading with your child, ask her to pick out familiar words such as “the,” “you,” “me,” “are,” and “of.” Ask her to describe the illustration to you and guess what happens next.  Ask your child what message the story is trying to give. Questions like this help your child develop critical reading skills.

Visit the Library

Get your child a library card and let him choose books to borrow and bring home to read together. Be sure to check out your local library’s calendar as well – most libraries sponsor a range of literacy-promoting events for young readers such as book clubs or story hours.

Visiting the library also gives you and your child the opportunity to explore a wider range of reading materials, such as kids’ magazines and nonfiction books. Reading a variety of materials beyond story books is an important aspect of the Common Core.

Write Together

Let your child dictate a story and watch as you write down her words. Write slowly and emphasize the movements of your pen. Then read back the words while following with a finger. You can let your child illustrate the story once it is finished. Watching how you form the letters with your pen will help reinforce the manual skills of writing.

Play Rhyming Games

Rhyming helps build vocabulary and also develops what educators call “phonological awareness” – the ability to hear sounds, associate them with letters and then manipulate both the letters and the sounds.This is a key component of the Common Core standards for Kindergarten. Recite nursery rhymes together. See how many words you can find that rhyme with his name. For beginning readers, try playing Rhyme Go Fish, which is similar to the card game “Go Fish” but played with flash cards featuring phonetic word families instead of numbered or colored cards.

Build a Sight Word Wall

In the classroom, your Kindergartner will probably be learning a set of words that she is expected to recognize on sight. These are usually small words such as “of,” “my,” “this,” “where” and “is.” Have your child write out these words on index cards, decorate the card any way she wishes with markers, crayons and/or stickers, and find a place in your home to post the cards on the wall. This way she will see them daily, which will help her recognize them quickly whenever it’s time to read. The word wall could be on a refrigerator door, bedroom door or closet door, or on a spare patch of wall anywhere in the house.