Back to School: Getting to Know Your Kindergarten Readers
Essential Assessments for Emergent Readers
“Back-to-School” is the best time of year. The kindergartners arrive at the classroom door, shining and smiling in their new school clothes, eager to learn.
There is a LOT to learn. First, they have to learn how to ‘do’ school. They have to learn where the bathroom is, how to share school supplies, and how to navigate the playground. Kindergartners have to learn the rules of school (i.e. taking turns speaking, following directions, taking care of supplies, etc.). It takes approximately six weeks until the classroom hits its groove.
While helping kindergartners adjust to the school setting and getting to know the students as little people, you must also get to know these little folks as learners. That can appear to be a daunting task.
Where does the classroom teacher begin?
In order to get to know your students as ‘readers’, you must start with the foundational phonological awareness skills. Phonological awareness, an oral skill, is the ability to manipulate the sounds in language. A child’s success with phonological skills is the strongest predictor of reading success.
How can I find out what my students do and do not know, and which skills are the most essential to assess?
We have developed a comprehensive phonological screen that assesses 15 key phonological skills in order of complexity. Portions of our Phonological Skills Assessment (PSA) can be administered during various times of the year. We have also included ‘Guidelines for Analysis’ that highlight common areas of confusion. We are offering this resource FREE to our subscribers. If you are a new subscriber and wish to receive a copy, please subscribe to our blog and email us so we can send the link.
What do I do after I give the assessment to my students?
We all know play is essential for learning to occur. Luckily, laying the foundation for phonological awareness can be addressed in a playful manner.
Here are few suggestions to get you started:
Nursery Rhymes are an old favorite for developing a sense of rhyme. As you read, and as students become more familiar with a rhyme, you can leave out the rhyming word and ask your students to call out the appropriate word. “Jack and Jill went up the _____”.
Books that build beginning sound skills include: The Spaghetti-Slurping Sewer Serpent by Laura Ripes and Walter was Worried by Laura Vaccaro Seeger.
Singing silly songs such as “Willaby Wallaby Woo” by Raffi will also go a long way in helping to develop your students phonological awareness.
Another great resource for developing phonological awareness is Phonemic Awareness in Children: A Classroom Curriculum by Barbara Foorman “Ph.D. M.A.T” and Marilyn Adams Ph.D.
We teach best when we work together. Please feel free to share an essential phonological awareness game that you have found helpful.
What other foundational skills should be assessed in Kindergarten?
Another essential kindergarten skill is the ability to identify the letter names and sounds. This is the first step in acquiring the alphabetic principle.
We know the beginning of school can be hectic, so here is a teacher-friendly, FREE, Letter Name and Letter Sound Assessment (LNLS). The LNLS can be used as a universal screen. We’ve even included guidelines to help you make informed instructional decisions for your kindergarten friends.
Here’s to a great year!