When it comes to language arts, there are as many teaching philosophies as there are curriculum options. It’s enough to make any parent’s head spin! Many of these philosophies and the accompanying curricula focus on one or two aspects of language arts training while considering other aspects to be of lesser importance. The key is to remember that being well-rounded and teaching to your student’s learning strengths is more important than following this philosophy or that.
Tips for the Starting Out Stage
These early learning years are much more about laying groundwork than about ensuring your child can solidly read by the end of first grade. Although there are children who teach themselves to read at three or four, many times they are able to put complex words together while still struggling with the foundations of comprehension or language mechanics. This is the perfect time to focus on those mechanics, whether your child learns to read by the end of this stage or not!
- Read aloud to your child every day. Sit down with picture books that bring the written word to life, but also introduce short chapter books for young listeners to help grow their attention spans and comprehension.
- Introduce phonics in a fun way through alphabet songs, word games, and learning toys. This is a great time to experiment. If your child grasps phonics well, keep going. If not, explore a variety of learning options to try to see how your child processes information. It might be that your child needs to begin with the memorization of sight-words, then come back to phonics later.
- Keep reading fun. During this stage, it is more important for your children to learn that reading is valuable and that books are a treasure than it is for them to become strong independent readers. So, act out stories together. Ask engaging questions about read-alouds. Have your child draw pictures or create artwork reflecting what you have read together.
- Build early writing skills by having your child make up stories that you write out for him or her. As you write, ask questions that will help your child understand story order, structure, and paragraph organization.
- Engage in sequencing activities, rhyming games, alphabet games, and other fun activities that build language skills.
- Early in this stage, work on exercises that build fine motor skills for handwriting. This will help children prepare to learn to form letters and words in kindergarten and first grade.