Independent reading. SSR. Call it what you like. It is crossing over from learning to read words, to learning to read. Parents and teachers alike take a deep breath and clasp their hands together when this happens. There are no words to say. Words might spoil the moment. After all, major milestones don’t happen often.
Look what happened!
I was busy in the classroom, working with children on a 100-piece puzzle. Things were bustling yet quiet. I looked over at the big rug and saw children dragging chairs. Little did I know that they wanted to arrange chairs in order to read books. After they set up chairs on the rug, they went for the books. Then they sat down, together, to read independently.
These are young children who cannot read, yet that is exactly what they are doing. Babies hear words; that’s how they learn to talk. Children hear books; that’s how they learn to read.
Preschoolers were clustered together in SSR (silent sustained reading). Four-year-olds, choosing to read independently, yet together as a group, without any help from a teacher.
It is the end of the school year; that means children are very comfortable with books in my classroom, and with each other. Staging their own SSR seems natural. It certainly did to the children. I think I can shed some light as to why…
I read-aloud constantly in my preschool classroom. Books are front-facing on a prominent bookshelf, accessible any time. I put words into the minds of children. Those words accumulate. Knowing more words=academic success in all areas. While this is an incredibly important fact, I know that I am putting more than words into the mind and heart of children. Nothing can compare to reading about Jack the dog in Little House on the Prairie; the sadness of losing Jack crossing the creek, and the joy of finding him again. Charlotte the spider entrusted her egg sac and 514 babies to Wilbur the pig in Charlotte’s Web before she died. We cry together, and we laugh and cheer together. Word, after word, after word.
When children band together in chapter reading, in poetry, and in picture books, their collective learning is a natural ladder to the next step, doing it. And they did.