Preparing Teachers to Support Struggling First-Grade Readers

July 2007

Source: Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, Volume 28, Issue 3 July 2007, pages 233 – 242

The purpose of this report is to provide education professors teaching early literacy methods courses with information for beginning teachers to support struggling first-grade readers. This analysis identifies the specific word structures children are expected to know by the end of first grade, and shows the actual learning rates of these sound-to-letter correspondences by students who are not achieving on grade level.

The evidence presented herein shows the need for preservice teachers to fully understand how to assess and enhance phonemic awareness in young children, a building block for decoding, and to identify and concentrate on teaching alphabetic relations as part of the early literacy curriculum.

Given the increasing numbers of students with diverse ethnic/language backgrounds and special needs in mainstream early childhood and primary grade settings, teacher education programs need to provide preservice teachers with the knowledge and skills required to meet the instructional needs of children from these populations.

Education professors have a great responsibility to ensure that preservice teachers have the necessary background knowledge to prevent reading failure for young children struggling with learning sound-to-letter correspondences. It is important that this aspect of early reading instruction be clearly explained and promoted with preservice teachers receiving certification in teaching children in Grades K-3.

Updated: Jan. 27, 2008