In first grade, children’s reading skills progress rapidly. Though Kindergarten is a critical year, since children learn letter sounds, digraphs (like sh, th, ch…etc.), sight words, phonemic awareness, and for the first time start reading real books, first grade is at least equally important. In first grade, kids are expected to acquire phonics sounds and sight words at a faster rate. Also, first graders generally make significant gains in fluency, jumping from about 20 correct words per minute to 50 correct words per minute. Preparing for first grade over the summer can help give your child a boost in confidence as she enters first grade.
Prevent the Summer Slide
After your child finishes Kindergarten, stay on top of what phonics sounds and sight words she knows. This way, you can select materials for your entering first grader with some awareness of her reading knowledge. Prioritize reading time during the summer. Just 20 minutes a day most days of the week will do wonders to prevent the summer slide. Guard reading time on vacation trips, time with relatives and amidst all the summer chaos and commotion. Communicate the importance of K-2 reading skills to family members. Ask grandma, auntie or big brother to be in charge of the 20 minutes a day!
Have Your Student Read Leveled Books
What is a leveled book? If your child reads nine out of every ten words correctly, the book can be considered leveled. This is a simple formula to follow. Though it isn’t exactly a precise way to define “leveled,” I’ve found that the “nine out of ten words correct” rule is easy for everyone to follow and can shield children from reading a range of inappropriately leveled books.
If your child is still working on letter sounds and short vowels, check out our short vowel books in our online printable library.
Review Phonics Sounds
Flashcards are often looked down upon, but in reading, if used methodically, they can greatly improve retention. If your child is entering first grade, she no longer needs to review letter sounds. However, be sure she still reviews short vowels. The following are short vowel sounds:
a_ as in alligator
e_ as in elephant
i_ as in igloo
o_ as in octopus
u_ as in umbrella
Also, review consonant digraphs. Consonant digraphs are two consonant letters that make one sound. The following are consonant digraphs:
sh as in ship
ch as in chip
_tch as in batch
th as in math
_ng as in song
Lastly, if your child knows some long vowel sounds be sure to put those on flashcards too. Review the flashcards during your 20-minutes a day dedicated reading time.
Review Kindergarten Sight Words
By the end of Kindergarten, your child should know 20-30 sight words. Real sight words! Not phonetic words. Your child should be able to read these sight words on isolated flashcards (without the crutch of context) and in books. Be sure to create sight word flashcards for your child. To prevent sight word attrition, review the sight words throughout the summer. Also, find books with sight words so she can practice reading them in context too.
How to Correct Reading Mistakes
Learning how to read takes most kids four years, starting in Kindergarten and ending in third grade. By fourth grade, kids transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Learning how to read takes years of practice and mistakes. As an at-home educator, make sure you correct your child in a way that fosters good reading habits.
If the word is phonetic, focus in on the phonemes, or the smallest units of sound. The more you highlight the exact sound your child miscued on, the more she’ll become phonemically aware and start reading accurately. For example, if your child reads “trail” as “tail,” highlight the missed /r/ sound.
If your child miscues on a sight word say, “This is a sight word. Do you want to try again?”