It’s several weeks into the school year. Students are settling in, but many young learners still feel confused and overwhelmed. Some will need to be gently reminded what to do. Others will need help following directions. Remember that when teaching children the behaviors that make classroom life run smoothly, a gradual release of responsibility works best. Modeling behaviors and providing opportunities for students to practice, with guidance, are optimal ways to help children develop independent management skills.
Correctly following directions and knowing what to do next are also important aspects of early reading and writing behaviors. Directional movement is more than just following a line of text, left to right across a page. Do your young readers understand directional movement when it comes to reading and writing? Ask them these questions:
- Where should we begin? What is the “first letter”?
- What do you do when you come to a “space”?
Modeling the following basic elements during shared reading and writing can help students master the concepts of directional movement:
- Begin reading on the left page first, before reading the right page.
- Begin reading at the top of the page and move downward, line by line.
- Read left to right across a word, and left to right across the line of type.
- When you finish a line of type, return sweep to the left, to the next line.
When children are learning to read, using books that support correct directional movement is especially important. In these early books, the text should begin on the left page. The lines of print should start at the top of the page. There should be good spacing between words, lines, and paragraphs. All these text features support the modeling you do with big books and in shared writing.
The books in the MRB Guided Reading Early Emergent Set (Levels A-C) are attentive to the needs of beginning readers. Page design, text placement, and careful word spacing reinforce correct directional movement, helping emergent readers gain confidence.