Author Randee Bergen shares ten best practices regarding the kindergarten emergent reader:

As I have developed and refined [my] approach to teaching kindergarten students to read, the following beliefs and practices have become the foundation of my instruction. They are the keys to maximizing your teaching and helping students become confident and independent readers.

1. Make every effort to help struggling students learn to read at a Level 3/C, but expect and teach the majority of students to read beyond that mark.

2. Establish and remain committed to a balanced literacy approach that includes read-alouds, shared reading, small-group and individualized instruction, and true independent reading.

3. Use preplanned, whole-group engagements to teach “in front of” students’ reading experiences and individualized instruction to teach “into” a child’s experiences.

4. Procure a variety of high-quality texts that complement a balanced approach to teaching literacy, including read-alouds, shared-reading texts, quality leveled books, and a wide assortment of texts for independent reading.

5. For the first six weeks of the school year, provide direct and explicit instruction to develop concepts of print and the notion of reading. Establish three rotating centers: Teacher Center (direct instruction), Assistant Center (guided practice), and Independent Center (independent practice).

6. After the first six weeks, move from small-group instruction to individualized instruction in order to maximize reading development. 7. Provide highly structured routines, expectations, and the explicit teaching of key strategies to support students in becoming independent readers.

8. Teach students at each one’s individual skill level and encourage them to progress at their own rate with no ceiling of opportunity. Employ modeling, scaffolding, prompting, backing off, and reinforcement to support student learning.

9. Move students steadily along the continuum of learning, using Vygotsky’s (1978) zone of proximal development in combination with Bruner and Sherwood’s (1975) concept of scaffolding. Recognize what students are on the verge of doing independently tomorrow if given just a bit of support from you today.

10. Keep parents informed about and involved in their child’s process of learning to read by sharing expectations and strategies and sending home appropriately leveled books.

This excerpt was taken from Teaching Reading in Kindergarten, Written by Randee Bergen.

Randee is also the author of, Teaching Writing in Kindergarten.