Reading Horizons has had a big impact on the learning in my kindergarten classroom. From the beginning of the school year, I am teaching kindergartners letter names and sounds so that they can use that information to decode and write words. Reading Horizons gives the children the background knowledge and understanding of rules in phonics that help them be able to decode and write words in their world of language.
I love that from the very start of the program I am teaching skills that help them to read and write not only sounds but real words. The markings in the program help them understand the “why” behind how things are read or written, and give them the background knowledge to decode and write many words. Even my lowest readers (that came into kindergarten knowing very few of the letter names and sounds) are now reading and writing CVC words, as well as words with L-, S- and R- blends, and sentences using these words. They feel confident in their reading and writing because they have the opportunity to be successful at it every day.
When I first started teaching Reading Horizons, I was teaching Extended Day Kindergarten to the very lowest at-risk children. Because I was teaching them all myself, I was skeptical about how they would be able to handle doing the transfer cards without a lot of adult supervision, so I didn’t use them. As I have used the transfer cards in small groups with my regular kindergartners the last three years, I have come to see their importance and benefit. The children become the “teacher”, and they learn very quickly that they can be successful in not only using phonics in their own reading and writing, but helping their fellow classmates to understand how to do so as well. They love it!
I have had adults in my classroom say to me, “Why didn’t I ever learn this when I was a kid?” I have learned rules of phonics that have helped me understand how to decode and spell words better myself through this program. I also find it interesting that, even though several of the other Guided Reading groups that my students go to throughout the hour, are learning games, work on iPads, etc., I often hear my students say, “I like your group the best.” We work hard every single day, but they love to learn to read and write, and show what they know on the whiteboards in my group. Learning is not a task, but a fun tool that helps them to see success every day as a learner.
As I have been giving the new statewide KEEP (Kindergarten Entry and Exit Profile) assessment to my students, I am seeing the benefit of having used Reading Horizons each day in my classroom. My students are confident in their ability to read and write, and are excited about continuing to learn. I recently heard someone say that we learn to read so we can then read to learn. Reading Horizons has given my students the tools to learn to read so that reading can now open up a whole new world to them. What an amazing process!