Reading seems to be at the top of "to do" lists with parents, even as early as preshool. Or before. This can stress out a lot of parents and teachers. Do kindergarteners need to read before they get there? Other than a few simple sight words, the answer is, probably not.
Sure, we have all seen and heard about 3 year olds reading fluently. That's what stresses out parents as well as teachers. The internet with facebook and youtube has made these kids go viral. It's not the norm. Of course this should not be discouraged either, but kindergarten teachers can lower the stress parents have. You must inform them what kindergarten can and will do to help their child become readers.
Emphasis on become. No teacher should ever expect the students to walk into kindergarten reading and writing. And just as an opinion, those children that do walk in like that, do not fully grasp the intent and meaning of reading. In fact, they might have difficulty comprehending and enjoying reading in the future.
We all know that kindergarten will put some emphasis on writing ones name, the alphabet, and sounding out various letter combinations. That certainly has a place. But did you know that is not the basis to create a reader? Reading is all about imagination, stories, and tall tales. What kindergartener does not enjoy that if given the chance? That's your job!First and foremost, a child must be read to. Encourage parents to read to their child every night. Kindergarten teachers have many opportunities to read to their students. Use them every chance you get. As you read, you are modeling how to read. How to handle a book. What the covers are. Even how to turn to the next page. Read books that have some lines that repeat, over and over. Your children should learn to say them at the right moment. Many children's books repeat lines on pages throughout. You are creating active readers. They might even guess at to what word comes next with rhymes. Always interject your own things when reading? "Ohhh. Was that scary?" "What do you think he is going to do next?" What color shoes is she wearing?"
When a kindergartener teacher is teaching, bigger words should be used when appropriate. That is, use higher words for objects. You want to build their vocabulary. When looking out the window, point out the glass and sill. Before writing on a chalkboard or white board, tell them that's what it is. Don't assume they know what objects you are using are. Many teachable moments in kindergarten.
Playtime in the kindergarten classroom will encourage imagination. Label various things in your classroom with words. Example, if you have a play kitchen, put a sign up that says, "KItchen." Other sites in your should also be labeled. Put the word, "Clock" near the clock, window on a window, etc. Teach them new words to use while playing store, kitchen, etc. Building a vocabulary is another building block of reading.
During story time, tell a story rather than read a book. Then ask your children to tell a story to the class. You could even start one, and ask a child to come up with what comes next. Why is this important? Because they will learn the form of basic story books. They have a plot. They have characters. They might have a problem or situation. Then they have an ending. Since they will be reading mostly story books for the first years of school, understanding what one is will help them out. Especially when they start writing stories.
We need to mention something about the books you read. Remember, you are encouraging and prompting reading. Your books should do just that. They must have pictures to give a kindergartener a clue or hint as to what is happening. They must use words that repeat, at least some of the time. The books should encourage interaction between the reader and child.
Of course the sad thing about being a kindergarten teacher, is that you never get thanked for the base you create. Seldom do you ever get to see the fruits of your labors. Just be satisfied that at the end of the year, you have given each student the tool to become a lifelong reader, and love it!