Learning to Read in Kindergarten
By the time children are in kindergarten they will be developing critical reading skills that will help them throughout their academic life. Some of the most fundamental skills that children will learn in kindergarten include:
Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and identify the individual sounds that make up words. These individual sounds are called phonemes For example, the word ‘cat’ is made up of three phonemes – c/a/t. By developing phonemic awareness, children are also developing critical listening skills to become aware that speech is made up of different sounds and that these sounds make phonemes, syllables and words.
Developing phonics skills is closely related to phonemic awareness. Phonics is the link between individual sounds, or phonemes, and letters of the alphabet. Developing phonics skills is often one of the main stumbling blocks children face early on when learning to read. Without adequate phonics skills, children are likely to have difficulty reading printed words.
Learning Sight Words
Some of the first words that kindergarten children will need to learn and automatically recall are ‘sight words’. Sight words are words like ‘is’, ‘the’, ‘and’, ‘but’ etc that children need to learn ‘at sight’. Sight words are often phonetically irregular, that is, their spelling often doesn’t match the way they sound, and their meaning is heavily dependent on the context in which they appear. With the first 100 high-frequency sight words making up more than 50% of primary level reading texts, learning to automatically read and recall sight words is one of the most crucial steps on the way to becoming a fluent reader.