Traveling on the Literacy Continuum

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Dear Families:


We take a moment to catch you up on another Parents As Learning Partners session.


On December 5th, our literacy expert, Becky Eaton, did a workshop for parents of children in pre-k to second grade.  The focus was literacy development on a continuum. We would like to highlight some of those big ideas for those of you who were not able to be with us on that day.


Think of young readers as going from roleplaying reading to emergent reading to early reading to fluent reading: traveling along a continuum.  


Start reading to your babies even before they can talk.  Turn those pages. Show the book right side up, left to right.  Sometimes you can point at the words. Encourage your child to draw the story and tell you about their drawing.


Your child will develop phonological awareness by playing rhyming games and breaking words up into sounds: ap-ple, cu-cum-ber (syllables) b-all, c-a-t. They will learn individual sounds (phonemes) as well as blending and segmenting.  


They will become comfortable with alliteration.  A good tongue twister is fun! (Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.)


There’s a lot we do in school to make this all come together.  We use a program called Sounds in Motion, which helps children to recognize sounds.  We teach decoding (looking at the letters, knowing their sounds, and putting those bits of information together to pronounce a word that has meaning), and spelling.  Children learn decodable words such as can, fast, spill, float, make, and right.  Children learn spelling patterns and word families.  Consider  -at  (cat, bat, sat, etc.)   -it (bit, hit, sit, etc.)    -all (call, fall). Children learn sight words, and high-frequency words:   the, was, are, they, could.   


In our early childhood classrooms, high quality literature is shared.  We read together for pleasure, to develop language and vocabulary, to find information, and to make connections to children’s lives.


Teachers model reading by reading big books to the class, turning the pages, using a pointer, and connecting print to word.  They teach literacy using songs and poetry. A child gets to be the Star Name. (How many letters in that name?) And every morning there is a morning message, ready for reading on the easel.


As this all comes together, children begin reading independently with just right books.  What is a just right book?  It’s one where children know nearly all the words on a page. They understand and can retell the story.  They feel successful.

When a child reads a book with too many unknown words, it disrupts meaning and destroys understanding and a child’s desire to read.


Research shows that lots of easy reading leads to accelerated progress while reading books that are too hard hinders progress. Please don’t rush your child.


What can you do to support this developing literacy?  Read aloud and often to your child. Do a picture talk about the images.  Ask what do you think will happen?  Listen when your child retells a story.  You can provide a regular time to read together.  You can read to your child or with your child. You can have your child read her just right books aloud to you.  You can play word games.  You can encourage writing.  And please limit screen time.  When you read with your child, talk together about the pictures and the story. Accept and praise your child’s efforts.   


High quality book reading occurs when children feel emotionally secure.  Children need opportunities to talk about the story, illustrations, to make predictions, and retell the story.  Teachers and parents promote discussion and help youngsters expand their understanding as well as their vocabulary.


The writing continuum is not too different.   Teachers lead the class in shared or interactive writing activities.  Children do independent writing. They draw and storytell. They label their images, moving towards captions.  They share headline news. Children invent their spelling and these approximations give us some kind of indicator of a child’s phonemic awareness.

Take a moment to peruse the following writing samples, which so beautifully illustrate the writing continuum:

At BNS we take the longer view of literacy development and recognize that children will be moving through these stages at  different rates. All the while, we observe youngsters very carefully so we can be sure to offer the early intervention needed to prepare our children for a reading life.


At BNS we aim for our students to be literate in the fullest possible sense. We see reading as a way to open the doors of information. We know that literature helps to illuminate and deepen life experiences.  We want our youngsters to be able to think clearly enough and be facile enough with language both orally and with written expression.


Remember, it’s all literacy.  We think of literacy as the ability to read and write, but literacy is so much more than that.  In essence, literacy is knowledge. And here at BNS, we strive to teach knowledge, as that is the key to life.


To talk about this further, come to the PTA Meeting on the morning of January 23.  And of course, don’t miss this Wednesday’s Parents As Learning Partners when we will talk about what it looks like when children are thriving in school.  See you then!


All for now,




News of the Week:

A  huge thank you to the students, the PTA, faculty and staff.  Your hard work is helping children throughout the world. UNICEF can do more of its life-saving work because of your care and commitment. Your 2018 UNICEF drive raised $1957.28. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!  From Monroe Allison, Brooklyn for Peace, UNICEF Committee


Quote of the Week:


Teams of third graders are in charge of recycling paper during lunch time.  The sound of the recycling can being wheeled down the hallways, sends teachers scurrying to check their green paper bins.  No one wants a red X for poor recycling.


Second grade teachers, Penina and Amy, place their bin in a hard to reach spot with a box top with a slot on it.  See picture.


Noah Thomas, a third grade recycler from Sally and Laura’s class, was heard to comment when he saw their system:  “Nice paper recycling HACK.”


Indeed it is.






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