Kin­der­gart­ners Learn New Rou­tines For Read­ing And Writ­ing Ear­lier

McDonald County Press - - COUNTY - Rachel Dick­er­son

Noel Pri­mary School has es­tab­lished new rou­tines for teach­ing read­ing and writ­ing to kin­der­gart­ners and is see­ing progress ear­lier than ever be­fore.

“Last year, we were look­ing at what was work­ing and not work­ing for our stu­dents,” said Prin­ci­pal Deb­o­rah Pear­son. “They were hav­ing trou­ble with their al­pha­bet.”

She said they looked at the cur­ricu­lum, its scope and se­quence, how it is taught, when it is taught and units of in­struc­tion.

“We want to stay on the same scope and se­quence as ev­ery­one else in the dis­trict be­cause it is a dis­trict-wide cur­ricu­lum, so we were try­ing to fig­ure out how to fix this dilemma,” she said.

A large part of the prob­lem is a deficit of lan­guage that Noel has be­cause stu­dents come to the school speak­ing other pri­mary lan­guages, Pear­son said. Re­search shows that it takes three to seven years to be­come flu­ent in an­other lan­guage.

“So, among the other chal­lenges you have, we also have that bar­rier of teach­ing English to these stu­dents,” she said. “On the pos­i­tive side, this is the best place for kids to learn English.”

What the fac­ulty at Noel Pri­mary de­cided to do was to take the al­pha­bet and chunk it up into a num­ber of let­ters per week that formed words quickly. The first let­ters were I, A, M. Form­ing “I am.”

“They could read ‘I am’ im­me­di­ately and make that connection be­tween read­ing, writ­ing and lan­guage,” Pear­son said. “As you add more let­ters, you can add more words.”

She said they also added form­ing ques­tions. For the let­ters W, I, L, they formed the ques­tion “Will I?”

“Stu­dents are start­ing to an­swer and ask more ques­tions and speak more,” she said. “Speak­ing and lis­ten­ing is a fo­cus at the be­gin­ning of the year, so it helps sup­port that.”

Also, in­stead of teach­ing cap­i­tal let­ters first, they taught low­er­case let­ters first, be­cause 90 per­cent of words are writ­ten in low­er­case let­ters, and be­cause writ­ing low­er­case let­ters helps de­velop fine mo­tor skills in the curve, slant and line pro­duc­tion, Pear­son said.

“We have kids writ­ing and read­ing now, and it’s usu­ally De­cem­ber be­fore that hap­pens. We’re pretty ex­cited about that,” she said. “We have chil­dren know­ing their sight words sooner. It’s re­ally been im­pact­ful. We also read to them more than twice a day. Up to six times a day.”

The school is al­most six weeks ahead of where it typ­i­cally is in kinder­garten, she said.

“I ex­pect over 90 per­cent of our kids to be late emer­gent/tran­si­tional read­ers at the end of the year,” she said, adding that means they can pick up a book at their level and sound out the words.

The fac­ulty is still do­ing tweaks, Pear­son said, like mak­ing sure po­etry is in­tro­duced sooner be­cause of rhyming. Some other lan­guages do not have rhyming, she said.

Some teach­ers weighed in on the new rou­tines.

“They’re do­ing fan­tas­tic,” said first-year teacher Kathryn Hern­don. “Al­most all of my stu­dents have made gains since the be­gin­ning of the year.”

She had two lev­els of dif­fi­culty stu­dents could choose from. They could ei­ther write “bat” or “Can you see a bat?”

“I think it in­cor­po­rates a lot of dif­fer­ent learn­ing strate­gies so they are get­ting to learn the way they need,” Hern­don said.

“You can al­ready see the growth,” teacher Tonya Showah said. “Dr. Pear­son re­ally upped the rigor. We’ve seen them do­ing things we didn’t see them do un­til Novem­ber or De­cem­ber. They are al­ready writ­ing full sen­tences. They still need as­sis­tance from the teacher, but their over­all growth has im­proved tremen­dously.”

“I think it’s giv­ing our kids of all lev­els a chance to un­der­stand writ­ing,” said teacher Brett Wary. “It’s giv­ing us kind of a jump­start to writ­ing. To put our thoughts on pa­per. In­stead of just fo­cus­ing on one let­ter at a time, we’re fo­cus­ing on lan­guage as a whole.”


Kin­der­gart­ners at Noel Pri­mary School prac­tice their writ­ing skills. The fac­ulty at the school have de­vel­oped new rou­tines for teach­ing read­ing and writ­ing to kin­der­gart­ners and are see­ing progress ear­lier than ever be­fore.

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