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Learning to read under the Common Core
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2014 10:29 AM

Reading is a skill kids learn in school and carry with them their whole lives, but before they can become proficient, they need to learn the basics. The Common Core State Standards for English/language arts include a section on reading fundamentals. Students in K-5 follow these benchmarks to develop their reading abilities. What does that look like? What skills do kids have to acquire to learn to read? Here's a look at the fundamentals of reading:

Kindergarten: Building blocks
Kindergarten students learn things like the alphabet, where to start reading on a page, rhymes and commonly used words - very much the basics. Not only do students in this grade learn to recite the alphabet, but they must understand it as a system for creating words. They'll begin putting those letters together to create simple words, like "the" or "went," things they may already say in daily life. With learning letters, sounds and basic words, kindergartners develop a recognition of phonemes and what it means when they rhyme. 

What's more, students entering kindergarten may not yet understand the mechanics of reading, so they have to learn that you start on the left side of the page, move right, then down.

Grade 1 and 2: Putting it together
With the very basics out of the way, students in grades one and two start putting pieces of language together. They focus a lot on vowels and vowel sounds, differentiating between short and long (a in "bat" is short but a in "fame" is long). First and second graders also form words using rules of English language, such as "i before e except after c." They learn rules to help them understand patterns of making words, but aren't yet at the level where they learn exceptions to rules.

With vowel sounds and language rules, first and second graders even begin to learn parts of a sentence, including nouns, verbs and adjectives.

Grade 3: Reading proficiently
By the end of third grade, students should be able to read basic material, such as a short chapter book. They will be, ideally, proficient enough for easy books. To get there, teachers continue to help students understand the elements that go into a sentence, rules of word formation, spelling, vocabulary and rhyme. The goal of grade three is to develop fluency.

Grades 4 and 5: Reading beyond
By this time, students should already know the basics of reading. In grades four and five, they focus on developing a stronger vocabulary and becoming fluent in English. These goals continue as students complete elementary school, as they can always learn more words and improve their reading techniques.