Fairly often I’ve been asked, “What reading curriculum do you teach?”
In the classroom I definitely followed the set standards and taught the required phonics and literature lessons. But my favorite part of the day and something I MADE time for in our curriculum plan was: reading aloud to my students.
Any time we had a few extra minutes of down or transitioning time, we’d read a few pages. If the students finished their work and had time before the rest of the class moved on, our procedure was solidly ingrained that they got out a book. After we’d packed backpacks and put our chairs upside down on the desks, we’d end the day reading. Picture books, chapter books, poems from our beloved Shel Silverstein volumes–it didn’t matter. We just read.
When I left the classroom to stay home, students were replaced with my own kiddos, and homeschooling became our new normal–and the reading curriculum question continued.
And for a long time (mostly regarding my first child) I was embarrassed to answer, because I hadn’t really used a curriculum. (Unless Leapfrog videos count!) Mostly, I just read to him. A lot. And because I’d read to him so much (from the very beginning) he loved books and began “reading” on his own. Maybe not the exact words, but he understood basic concepts of print, and that meaning could be derived from the illustrations. A few impromptu phonics lessons and many, many read alouds later, and he was reading well before most his age.
My second child gained a similar love for books from the time she sat on my lap, but this time around I worried I needed a structured method for teaching her to read (so I could be better prepared to answer that curriculum inquiry). And so I bought an expensive but well known reading curriculum, and taught a handful of the phonics lessons before she too began reading independently. I continue to dust that boxed curriculum set during my routine cleaning chores.
The third time around I’m choosing to be a bit more relaxed in our approach to reading instruction, mostly just reading aloud every day, and my kindergartner is well on her way to fluency. And I’m already seeing strong reading habits emerge from my three year old. As for the baby? She just likes the way books taste!
- In no way is this meant to be a “Look at me, I’m getting it right.”
- Though I’m incredibly biased, my kids aren’t geniuses.
- And there is a lot of amazing reading curriculum out there–many that I own, and recommend.
But as I’ve spent some time preparing for this upcoming school year, I’ve been thinking a lot about my educational philosophies and beliefs. And the one factor I can confidently say I believe has propelled my students and children in their reading development is a love for reading, acquired from lots and lots and lots of (wait for it) . . .
. . . reading.
Research backs this one up.
“Reading aloud with children is known to be the single most important activity for building the knowledge and skills they will eventually require for learning to read.” (Marilyn Jager Adams, Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning About Print)
This post is part of the Turn Your Beliefs Into Actions Blog Hop. To see what other educators believe and what they’re doing with those beliefs, “hop” over to Brain Domain Kids.