I believe teaching reading is important because students are then able to use books for enjoyment and research on topics and ideas that interest them. They ultimately become a life-long learner from the ability of reading and it is my job to help students acquire this skill when they show interest and readiness. I have to admit I’ve had my hesitations and many questions about my role of teaching reading in kindergarten but the further I’ve read and gathered information on best practices I’ve become much more confident and committed to teaching reading. I was very inspired by Newman’s philosophy on reading in which he shares that “children need to be reading on their own while they are still openly inquisitive and asking the kinds of questions that can be answered readily and intelligently in the books that are available to them. The chances are then much greater that they will form the avid reading habit, making books and reading an important part of their lives (1966, p. 237). I’ve always believed that children will learn to read and that they shouldn’t be pushed into reading early. I want children to enjoy and experience play, creativity and cooperation while they are young because once they enter school academics become such a strong and leading force. While I still believe in this, I am now better able to understand that I can create strong successful readers in an environment that is still conducive to all those ideas.
I believe strongly in keeping the curriculum developmentally appropriate and to do this in reading it means teaching literacy in a variety of ways. First I focus heavily on creating a rich reading environment where print is noticeable and I have special inviting areas including my “book nook” and “writing spot.” I engage students in meaningful and rich discussions through read alouds where I model comprehension strategies and reading skills. Students learn to love reading as I myself model a love for reading. We use print in whole group stories, through writing class messages and in a variety of books, journals and “write the room” activities. I have a plethora of books and I allow students to choose which books they want for their independent reading and take home reading books. Everyday students are reading and what I find to be the most effective is allowing students to read and share in front of the class. We have “guest readers” and “guest writers” daily in my classroom. It has shown to be one of the strongest motivators to engage students in daily reading and writing. I also conduct guided reading groups to teach specific skills and to work on individual goals while increasing students comprehension abilities. These ideas combined with my passion for reading have all been very effective in creating a classroom of students who not only have the ability to read and write but the interest and personal motivation to be readers and writers.