How to Teach Reading in Kindergarten – 5 Important Skills

Posted by Korbalagae On January 17, 2022

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Knowing how to teach reading in kindergarten can make a big difference in the future academic success of your students. Of course, reading is more than a single skill. To begin with, it is a combination of many foundational skills that students will need to rely upon to be able to learn. With strong reading comprehension, students will learn and expand their other academic skills. You can set up your students for success by understanding how to teach reading in kindergarten effectively. Additionally, with these fun activities, they’ll have an absolute blast!


Having a strong vocabulary is a critical element to having high reading skills. After all, being able to recognize or decode words is not very useful if you don’t know the words. Vocabulary can be built by children knowing and understanding a broader variety of words. Mastering the meaning and context of new words can help improve their reading, communication, and writing skills.

Vocabulary can be built in a variety of ways. For example, one simple way is to communicate with children often. Using challenging words as part of everyday speech will increase a child’s vocabulary with very little effort. However, there are also lots of great classroom activities that will build vocabulary skills for kindergarteners.

Integrating vocabulary lessons with other literacy learning is an easy way to get children exposed to new vocabulary. Specifically, adding vocabulary words to sight word introduction is simple and effective. Also, you can center new vocabulary around other areas of learning in the classroom. Science and social studies learning are great subjects to use to introduce new vocabulary. For example, if you are learning about plants, it could be a great time to introduce words like “blossom,” “sprout,” or “root”. On the other hand, if you are learning about cars, it could be a great time to introduce words like “engine,” “highway,” or “transportation.”

Phonemic Awareness, Phonological Awareness, and Phonics Skills

Phonological awareness is the skill that allows readers to make the connection between letters or groups of letters and their sounds. This includes skills like understanding letter sounds and decoding the sounds in a word. Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate the sounds in spoken words. This includes skills like being able to dissect a spoken word into each of its component sounds.

Phonological awareness and phonemic awareness work together to help a child learn to “decode” new words. In fact, these skills are critical as they ensure that a child has the tools needed to continue learning new vocabulary. Overall, the best way to teach kindergarten reading is by prioritizing phonological and phonemic awareness.

Teachers can introduce phonological awareness by teaching letter sounds. Then, they can divide written words into composite letters once they’ve mastered letter sounds. Also, students can learn about the unique sounds of letter combinations. For example, some unique letter combinations sounds are “sh,” “ch,” “ight,” or “ee”.

Additionally, teachers can introduce phonemic awareness by having students practice counting out syllables in words. Then, students can practice taking each syllable and identifying the different letter sounds in each. Also, kindergarten reading activities should include plenty of discussion of rhyming, syllable counting, and sound isolation.

Sight Words

Sight words are a group of words that are most frequently used in print. While some may be learned using phonics skills, others cannot be decoded through phonological or phonemic awareness. These words are best learned through specific memorization. This is especially helpful for words that don’t follow traditional rules of written language. For example, some words are “know,” “sign,” or “ballet.”

Additionally, other words that might be useful to memorize are words that children are likely to see frequently. Memorizing these words can make it easier for children to read fluently. This is because they will need to stop and decode less often. That may include words like “said,” “you,” or “they.”

Sight words should be learned a few at a time. They are one of the kindergarten reading strategies that can take quite a while to build. Teachers can start by introducing two or three words at a time. Then, over the course of a few days or a week, the class can practice these words in various contexts. Once they have memorized the word’s spelling and meaning, more can be introduced. Sight words can be practiced by hanging them on a word wall, where they can be seen and referenced. They can also be incorporated into other activities, like journaling or reading experiences.

Reading Rules

Beyond understanding letters and words, there is more structure and skill to reading. There are more Kindergarten reading strategies to understand before children are ready to independently read.

The most important of these is helping a child find their way around a paragraph. Firstly, they need to understand that sentences are constructed from left to right, and from top to bottom. They also need to understand how to navigate a book, like finding the first page of text. Also, kids may need help understanding how to find page numbers or what captions are. These kinds of skills may seem like second nature to many adults. However, children need this instruction.

Fortunately, this kind of concept is very easy to introduce in the classroom. As children are becoming independent readers, have a day or two of reading lessons devoted to Reading Rules. Explain each of these concepts and have children practice them on their own. Also, creating an anchor chart or wall decoration illustrating these concepts could be helpful.

Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension is critical to learning to read. This is a set of skills that allows a reader to process, understand, recall, analyze, and summarize the text. In short, teaching reading comprehension allows children to engage with a text beyond just knowing what the words are.

One way to build reading comprehension skills is to have large-group reading. Firstly, make sure to choose appropriate kindergarten reading level books that are simple enough for them to engage with but are still challenging. Throughout the book, ask the children questions. For example, a simple recall such as “do you remember what happened at this part of the story?” Also, be sure to include open-ended questions that rely on a child’s interpretation of the text. They may be questions such as “how do you think this character felt when this happened?”

For example, activities for Kindergarten reading comprehension can include having students summarize a story or answer questions about it independently. Give each student a short passage to read independently. Then, give them a worksheet with some simple questions about the text. Questions about the story’s themes, narrative, and characters will all build their reading comprehension skills.

How to Teach Reading In Kindergarten

Overall, teaching reading in kindergarten can be easy and fun! Obvious, these 5 skills are so important for early readers. Do you have any other tips to teach these skills? Leave them in the comments below!


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