Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.
You can help get your young child ready for kindergarten reading by practicing three simple skills this summer:
1. Recognizing and naming all uppercase and lowercase letters of the alphabet.
2. Understanding that whole words are separated by spaces in texts.
3. Recognizing and producing rhyming words.
These 3 basic skills are important because they set a framework for your child to understand that spoken words can be represented in printed form.
Here are 3 easy activities to practice these skills:
1. Upper/Lowercase: When at the beach or at a playground sandbox, have her practice writing letters in the sand with her index finger or a stick. Working in the sand incorporates the sense of touch, as well as the sense of sight. Using more than one sense to practice gives her greater opportunity to remember the letters and their names. Practice the letters as “partners,” which means writing the capital and lowercase letters as a set (Aa, Bb, Cc, etc.) This makes for an easier transition to the printed word.
2. Spaces In Texts: When reading to your child, vertically move a Popsicle stick (or other pointer) after each word to emphasize the space. This visually separates the words, and makes his eyes recognize that spaces exist between the words in stories. It also reinforces the natural left-to-right flow of reading. As you reread stories he is familiar with, let him try moving the Popsicle stick between words.
3. Rhyming: Rhyme all the time! Recognizing and producing rhymes is an important part of learning sounds and decoding words. Easily blending the sight and sounds of letters and simple words will help her increase reading fluency. Good reading fluency is a key component in developing reading comprehension. Have fun creating silly rhymes together—“The fat cat sat on a mat wearing Mom’s hat.”
Mastering simple foundational skills like these forms a solid base to build higher-level thinking and reading skills, both necessary parts of kindergarten reading.