As a teacher and principal, I have shared the importance of reading to children many times with parents. In our parent surveys, the overwhelming response was that parents read to their children on a regular basis. However, our kindergarten students did not perform well on the “Concepts of Print” (COP) assessment administered each Fall. The assessment, created by Marie Clay (1993), includes items to assess a child’s knowledge of both print and written language skills. Knowing how these skills work together helps support learning to read and write. Most of our students understood that a book told a story (that print had meaning), but few had much knowledge of “how print works”.
So what should we do about Concepts of Print?
As a staff, we decided to share the COP assessment finding with parents at the Kindergarten Orientation in May. We showed parents how to read a story to their child and how they could informally add a few COP skills to their reading routine. We explained that by showing their kids the parts of the book, letter/writing concepts and how to read a book during their daily reading with their child, they could help support their child’s reading progress. The results were amazing! The new Kindergarten students scored 50% higher than the three previous years of the fall COP administration. That was only 3 months after sharing the information with parents!
What did we learn about our Concepts of Print trial?
Our results reminded us of two important concepts about parents, kids, and reading. First, parents are their child’s first teacher; so, let’s show them ways to help be successful. Secondly, kids are like sponges, absorbing information from the world around them. Why do we wait to teach COP skills until Kindergarten?
Parent Pointers: Concepts of Print and Reading to Your Child
Point to the Following Parts of the Book
- Front and back of the book.
- Top and bottom of a picture.
- Title Page.
- Author’s Name (define that the author writes the book).
- Illustrator’s name (define that the illustrator draws the pictures).
Show How to Read a Book
- A sentence is read from left to right.
- Pages are read from left to right.
- Point to each word while you read.
- Read pages from left to right.
- A story has a beginning and end.
Words and Writing in Books: Basics
- A capital letter is at the beginning of a sentence.
- Words and sentences have capital letters and lower case letters.
- Point out 1 word in a sentence, Point out 2 words.
- Point out that a word is made up of a group of letters.
- A comma explains to the reader that it tells the reader to pause or slowdown.
- There are punctuation marks at the end of a sentences (period, question mark, exclamation mark) Explain that the marks tell the reader how to read.
Research: Clay, M. M. (1993). An observation survey of early literacy achievement. Heinemann, 361 Hanover St., Portsmouth, NH 03801-3912.
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