Originally Posted by Bird Girl
I will say that phonemic awareness is just a fancy educational label for a skill-set that is totally appropriate for kindergarteners; rhymes, word sounds, and syllables that can be introduced through story-telling, nursery rhymes, and poems.
I agree, but I do not think that is what is going on in most Kindergartens any longer. In our district, the benchmark for the end of Kindergarten is that children can independently read a "level C" book (In our district they use Guided Reading Levels -- An example of level C would be Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?
) Now many kids can "read" Brown Bear...
because they have memorized the repetitive text pattern and/or they know the story very well from repeated readings. However for assessment, they are expected to read a level C book "cold" (having never heard/seen the book before). Lots of Kindergarteners can do this by the end of the year (and they should be encouraged to do so); however many can't. And (at least in our district) that is not OK... they are labeled and considered "behind" in reading. What about the kids who do not have dyslexia or any kind of learning disability, but who are just not ready yet? There is a mentality that if some can do it, all should be able to do it.
This really makes me angry.
BTW - some posters discussed pull out programs. I don't agree that kids always love going to them, or that there is no stigma attached to it. By the end of first grade, my son and the other kids in his class, definitely knew who the "good" and the "bad" readers were. (I volunteered in his class during reading time, and I also worked --paid job -- in the library, so I was there a lot... knew the kids quite well ... and I listened to them as they checked out their library books) The kids who were getting pulled out were labeled (by the other kids) as "bad" readers. IMO the teacher did nothing to stop this perception. When I was a teacher I really worked on explaining to the kids that we all have different strengths, we all learn differently etc. -- but I saw none of this last year.
I think this issue goes beyond Kindergarten. there is such an emphasis on meeting benchmarks (which include reading fluency, accuracy, and speed). My son was trying to read Magic Tree House books, they were a little bit beyond him, but he was proud of himself and making progress with my support. He was reprimanded by the reading teacher who told him "Now, now, those books won't make you fast and fluent" (Her exact words!) and she redirected him to books at his level. When she said this to him (I was standing right there), you could literally see him deflate - like someone had popped a balloon!
Edited to add... I want to clarify something. In the above example regarding what the reading teacher said to my son about Magic Tree House books, I don't think encouraging children to read books at their level is necessarily a bad thing. In fact it can really help them become independent readers. What I was so angry about was her essentially telling my son that the Magic Tree House books were beyond his capabilities. Why couldn't he read both... spend some time reading leveled books, and some working on the chapter books? That is what he really wanted to read, and I believe desire and motivation are at least as important as a specific correct level!