How many words should be introduced to a kindergarten aged child? And how often should new words be introduced?
Should I use the dolch word list? I am trying to decide how to go about doing spelling with my child. Thanks for any replies!
We prefer to introduce words within our own daily reading, not separately. At this age, that's pretty easy to do. If they are patient listeners you can *really* stretch the boundaries of their understanding. There is a whole range of books that can be read to kindergarteners, from Little House to the classic Pooh, Harry Potter and the Hobbit and way, way beyond. For early readers, having really interesting books that are *just* beyond their full ability to read can persuade them to ask about unfamiliar words (my 6.5yo daughter loves graphic novels). I don't make my girls sound a word out or have them work it out for themselves necessarily. Often if I am there and give them an extra minute they will figure it out, but I don't stretch it even close to the point of frustration. I'll sound it out while they watch my finger, I'll tell them the meaning or, as I often find when we read really big books together, I find myself looking up words for myself! I think it's good for kids to see that even grown-ups don't have the answers handy all the time and what they do about it.
Kindergarten seems a little young to teach spelling as a separate subject. Typically kids that age would be learning phonics and starting to use that knowledge to sound out some words and to write using invented spelling. Do you have a kid who's already reading and writing pretty well, or are you thinking about introducing words as part of teaching reading?
I focused on introducing phonics rules rather than specific words. As the kids practiced reading, sight words that didn't fit in with phonics rules would come up, and I would explain how the word was pronounced and that it was one of those weird words that you just have to remember. (But even with those words, I like to point out their phonics - e.g "the 'gh' is silent" or "the 'ch' is pronounced like 'k'.") I never had my kids practice reading sight words in isolation, but I did sometimes type or print up my own little cartoons or stories for them to practice with, and I might include repeated examples of a particular sight word I wanted to help a kid remember.
If I were going to take the approach of introducing words in a planned-out way, I'd probably pick a specific story or page for the child to practice reading and introduce the words needed to read that. Once the child was comfortable reading the words in that context, I'd write or find some other practice pages using the same words. Once I was confident the child could recognize the words whenever he saw them in new text, then I'd move on to a different story and the words needed for that one. How many words to introduce and how often to introduce them would depend on how easily and quickly I saw the child learning them. But I personally would definitely not start out teaching reading as sight word recognition.
I am not quoting this to start yet another debate about phonics vs. word recognition, but just to put my personal vote in for whatever method works in the moment or with each kid. My 6.5yo reads mainly by word recognition and is a little impatient with sounding out words. Not that she gets frustrated, but she'll sound out the word long enough to make a guess. This works for her just fine. My 4.5yo likes to sound out words one.....letter.....at......a.....time! We don't teach reading separately from stories, either. This all has just happened in the course of life.
I wanted to add that I think it's adorable when they pick up a new word and start putting it into their daily language, sometimes inappropriately. I know they are listening and processing according to their abilities. DD1 and I are almost finished reading The Return of the King together, and I will ask when we come across a word we've had to look up if she stills remembers what it means. (She usually does.) This is to help her keep track of this huge story. But my non-method is to simply keep throwing words into their heads via everyday reading. We get stacks and stacks of books from the library every week on every imaginable subject. Library day is fun because we usually sit down and read as many as we can at one sitting. Not so much now it's summer, though.
I think this is the sort of thing that it's best not to plan. Your child may adopt an enthusiastic sight-word-memorizing approach to early reading and you may find that the appetite for new words builds quickly -- even to the point that your introducing them is pointless, since your child is introducing himself to dozens of them on his own. On the other hand you may find that your child struggles to remember even the simplest handful of sight words, and perhaps clearly isn't ready to read, at least not using a sight-word oriented approach. In that case you would be much better spending the year focusing on the phonetic code, invented spelling, and playing around with letter sounds in various ways. You're dealing with an individual child, so your approach should be one that suits your particular child's readiness and learning style at this particular moment in time, not one that suits an mythically "average" kindergarten classroom.