Phonics for Life: Concordia’s Reception Students Learn to Love Reading

Concordia Elementary School aims to develop literate, life-long learners with a passion for reading. The Concordia Reception program integrates various pedagogical approaches to support our youngest students at the beginning of their reading journey. 

Here in the Concordia Reception classes, we understand that learning to read is a process best supported when we think about how our students' brains learn and store information related to reading. Every day, students are working hard on important foundational reading skills. It is essential that students can make the connection between the sounds they hear and the symbols they see. Teachers meet students where they are on their reading journey to ensure that each student has a strong mastery of the alphabet's letters and sounds and, when ready, to learn more complex phonics patterns, such as digraphs and blends! Digraphs are when two consonants make one new sound, and blends are two consonants together each make a sound.

2 kids and a teacher learn alphabet

We work on many important reading skills, including reading from left to right, decoding: pointing to the letters in a word, saying each sound, and then blending the sounds together to read it, and splitting longer words up into syllables. Students can apply and practice the phonics skills they are being taught straight away by reading decodable books. Decodable books are carefully selected to incorporate words consistent with the letters and phonemes that have been explicitly taught to our young readers. As students learn new skills, these books follow a progressively more challenging sequence. We have access to a variety of decodable texts, including our new ‘Jump Rope Readers’ collection. Students feel a true sense of success as a reader when they can decode and read words with independence and accuracy! 

a student and a teacher learn from a decodable book

In addition to learning about the different sounds found in the English Language, students are introduced to high-frequency words. These are the words that occur most frequently in written material. In Reception, we learn that most high-frequency words can be decoded. However, there are many words we come across that are challenging to read because of complex spelling patterns. We like to refer to these words as ‘heart words.’ Rather than trying to memorize an entire word, students study a word, and using a process called orthographic mapping, they identify which part of the word they would need to remember by heart. Students are again given many opportunities to practice reading these new words in the decodable books provided. 

2 students and a teacher practice spelling with mirrors

One of our students’ favorite times of the day to build their love for reading is during our Reading Workshop. Through interesting, engaging units, students can spend time with terrific books in hand and explore their reading identity. Students are given time to select and choose books to read independently or with partners from our well-resourced classroom libraries. They think about their interests, favorite characters, and genres when self-selecting the books they wish to read during this time. Students also read in small groups with a teacher, or in a 1:1 conference to discuss their reading and work on different targeted skills.

a student and a teacher having conversation

As we aim to help grow students who are confident in using technology, they are also given the opportunity to read digital books on our classroom iPads, using fun apps and subscriptions such as Epic!, Teach your Monster to Read, and more! 

2 students and a teacher practice with projector screen

The Reading Workshop in Reception is also a time where teachers spend time reading aloud a wide array of beautiful and enriching picture books to students. Read-alouds are a time for students to hear what expressive, fluent reading sounds like and see a model of what it looks like to read for pleasure. This is also where we engage in deep conversations about texts and build our comprehension skills. Our class read-alouds are shared with parents weekly in our Reception Virtual Library. This can be found on our website. Reading aloud is one of the most important things teachers and parents can do for a child’s reading development! 

2 students and a teacher practice spelling with a book

As the famous quote goes, “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” - Margaret Fuller.
Concordia Reception students are growing as readers who we hope will make a big impact on the world someday!

Learn more about Concordia’s reception program.

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