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  • wnelson20

Back to School! (The Early Years)


It's that time again - the kids are heading back to the classroom for another year, or maybe their first year, of learning. But what are they learning, and how is it being taught?


If your kids are in Kindergarten, 1st grade, or 2nd grade, the focus of most of their classroom time should be on reading. Those first 3 years are a critical time for learning to read, so they can spend the next 10+ years reading to learn. But how do you know if their teachers are providing the right type of instruction?


The best way to find out is to ask! Don't be afraid to be the squeaky wheel at your child's school. By the time I was halfway through kindergarten, the secretaries at my school recognized my mother's voice as soon as they picked up the phone - and this was long before caller ID! My mom knew that she had to push for what I needed, and because she pushed, I got it.


So, what should you be asking? Mainly, you want to know what methodology/curricula teachers are using to teach reading. If you hear phrases like "balanced literacy, "whole language," "Lucy Calkins," "Units of Study," "Fountas & Pinnell," or "Leveled Literacy Intervention," you should start hearing sirens and waving red flags. Those programs/methods have all been disproven by research and shown to be ineffective in teaching students to read. (Check out the Sold a Story podcast for more information about this.)


The words you want to hear are "science of reading" and/or "structured literacy." If your child's school is savvy to those terms, it means they have caught on to what really works for teaching kids how to become successful readers.


Some schools will tell you to "wait and see" how your child does with their (ineffective) curriculum before you come storming down to the principal's office. Don't listen to them! While it's true that some students will learn to read no matter what type of instruction they receive, it's also true that the right type of instruction works for ALL students. And don't we want ALL students to learn how to read?


Good luck to all as the school year gets started! Please drop me a comment if there's something you want to know about reading.

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