START KINDERGARTEN READING
By Amanda McNamara Lowe
Founder of Stretch & Catch® Reading Center
Kindergarten! An exciting time filled with firsts for you and your child. Your son or daughter gets to go shopping for school clothes, a new oversized book bag and all the new school supplies. However, today’s kindergarten looks quite different than the kindergarten of your generation.
In the past, kindergarten was a crucial time for learning ABC’s, having nap time and adapting to a school schedule. Today, kindergarteners are expected to enter knowing their ABC’s and sight words.
For some kindergarteners, reading can be a daunting task. A parent sees complete words, anon-reader sees letters. Some non-readers don’t even understand that letter sounds catch together to make words.
So how does a parent help a child become a reader? The secret is sight words. Sight words are the most common words found in books. When you’re a new reader, sight words can make up over 60% of the text. These words are not only common words found in text, but they are usually words that cannot be sounded out. For example, the word “the” is a common sight word, one you find in every text. But try to sound out “the.” You can’t. Sure, you can put your tongue between you teeth to make the digraph /th/ sound, but then how does the “e” make that sound at the end? The only reason you know the word “the” is because you have it imprinted into your brain. To be even more technical, a non-reader would not even know that the sound “th” makes one sound/th/.
A fluent reader is one who knows sight words and therefore does not stop and struggle on those common words. That in turn alleviates the frustration of “word-by-word” reading.
So, if a child just sees letters, how do we teach them to recognize sight words? It is important to not overwhelm them at first. Start with one word. You can usually get a list of sight words from your school’s website or you can download sight words from Fry or Dolch sight words online. The more sight words your child begins to memorize, the easier the transition to reading will be.