We need to teach the alphabetic code to children explicitly and systematically as early as possible. If we don’t get this right, we will continue to see high illiteracy rates across the country.
In the second book of these beautifully illustrated graphic plays, the main character, Ms. Query, now armed with some basic knowledge from her talk with her family pediatrician, has a conversation with her youngest child’s preschool teacher before the school year begins. Readers will learn all about phonological awareness, letter knowledge, and other crucial pre-literacy skills along with Ms. Query.
Rather than teaching children to actually read words in an explicit and systematic manner so that they will eventually be able to read everything, literacy practices in kindergarten and first grade classrooms today encourage memorization of words and reliance upon pictures and other cues to figure out unknown words. Cues, such as “look at the picture,” “get your mouth ready,” “look at the first letter,” and “skip it and come back,” might appear to work while children are being provided books that align with those faulty strategies, but it doesn’t last.
Memorization and guessing are not foundational skills. By the time children reach second, third, and fourth grade, the pictures are removed and the words become longer. It is then that many children find themselves unable to successfully guess their way through more difficult texts. And only then are they sent for help and systematic phonics instruction, a science-based method for teaching reading. It’s backwards.
There is no excuse for introducing what works only after what doesn’t work has failed. Parents and preschool/daycare teachers must make every effort to learn about true literacy development and help build foundational literacy skills in their children before they start school.
A great book for parents and early childhood professionals alike! Look for all three titles in the "If Only I Would Have Known..." series!