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Reading Before Reading

Reading instruction begins early and is directly related to oral language development. Before jumping into the academic side of reading, you may be comforted to know that reading occurs in the following sequence.

Body Reading

· The reading process begins with body reading, which includes the identification of ears, eyes, nose, and other body parts. Sequence mastery by first saying,


—This is your eye.”

—Next say, “Point to your eye.”

After practice, touch the child’s eye and ask, “What is this?”



Environmental Reading

· Environmental reading (often referred to as logographics) emerges when the child identifies symbols such as those used for McDonald’s®, Toys-R-Us®, or Taco Bell®.



Associative Reading

· Begin associative reading by placing written names on items in the child’s environment, such as a chair, table, wall, floor, and door. Print using lowercase letters. Only use capitals if the word is a proper noun, such as the first letter of the child’s name. Make the tall letters approximately 1- inch high and short letters one half inch in height. Signs on familiar objects provide opportunities for informal learning. Please do not drill or expect memorization.




Language Experience Approach (LEA)

· Use a Language Experience Approach (LEA) to demonstrate that what one says can be written down and what one writes can be read. LEA offers a wonderful opportunity to build on children’s cultural and home backgrounds, to facilitate their oral language development, and to connect the skills of speaking, listening, writing, and reading.


· Initially, provide guidance with questions that aid recall of an interesting experience. Many find writing the child’s exact words uncomfortable if the child’s pronunciation of a word requires incorrect spelling. Likewise, if a child uses incorrect grammar, it may feel too compromising to write exact words. Honor your feelings about these questions. Please do not turn this activity into a spelling or grammar lesson. Never ask a child to edit the LEA story.


· Sample experiences include looking at clouds, petting animals, cooking together, watching a short movie, or playing outside. Again, the purposes are to share a wonderful experience and to enjoy the pleasures of oral storytelling, listening, writing, and reading.


Directions for One Child

Begin by giving a child an interesting experience such as watching birds fly. Encourage the child to talk about the experience before guiding him to dictate a story to you. Write down what the child says and read the story back to the child to check accuracy. Dictation helps develop a connection between oral language and print.


Directions for Several Children

Arrange for half the class to be out of the room while you discuss an experience and take dictation from the remaining children. When the first half of the class returns, read the story to them. The expanded concept includes, “It isn’t necessary to hear the story while it is being written in order to listen and understand it.”



Whole Word Reading

· You may now begin whole word/sight word reading. Choose interesting words from language experience stories. Without sounding out letters, some children will begin to visually recognize words.




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