A child’s desire to learn is one of the best tools for teaching. Most children strongly want to become readers and first graders are set up to learn reading by kindergarten language activities. In many cases beginning reading skills are already established. Regardless of a child’s preparedness, there are a few basics to follow to teach first grade reading. Once a child is able to recite the alphabet in order, you’re ready to begin.

Establish letter recognition. Quiz all beginning readers on recognizing letters by sight, and identifying the sounds letters make. Use an alphabet wall display to prompt an entire class. “What letter is this?” “T.” “What sound does it make?” “Tuh.” Use flash cards individually with any student that doesn’t participate by calling out answers.

Teach sound blending. Have children sound out letters that make up simple words: "kuh – a – tuh." Show the child how to connect the sounds verbally: "k – a –, ka –" Let the child be the one to utter the actual word: "oh cat!"

Incorporate spelling. Make children recite the spelling of new words they learn. Since beginning readers are also beginning writers, use all new words for writing exercises that emphasize spelling.

Identify sight words. Use the words that children should be able to recognize and say on sight for classroom exercises. That can be as simple as writing the words on a chalkboard and asking students to say the one you point to. Each state has a list of words considered mandatory for children to recognize on sight at certain grade levels.

Have students read to you. Ask new readers to take turns reading aloud. Make a note of any sight words the children are sounding out instead of recognizing, for use in future lessons. Complement the children on their progress.

Read to students. Read short stories with age appropriate vocabulary to beginning readers. Ask questions about the characters and events mentioned in the text to build reading comprehension.

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