What are Reading Circles? Let’s find out! In a sentence: Reading Circles are the heart and soul of Grace Community School’s reading program. The powerful combination of phonics, one-on-one attention from a trained teacher, and the breaking down of the alphabet into small sections makes for fluent readers at an incredibly young age.
A common misconception is that kids can’t learn to read until elementary school. This is simply not true! At Grace Community School, children learn to read as young as three years of age. We’re not talking about memorizing sight words here; we mean actually being able to read new words by “sounding out” the letters phonetically. This makes it possible for the child to read even a word he or she has never seen before! The confidence this instills in kids is incredible. They start to believe that anything is possible.
Reading Circles start with Grace Community students as young as two years old. Reading Circles start at the most basic level, the alphabet. The alphabet is divided into five sections, beginning with the vowels. Students learn not just these letters, but more importantly the sound that goes with each letter, along with a clue word to aid retention. By breaking the alphabet down into smaller sections and providing one-on-one time with the teacher each day, children learn quickly and progress through the Reading Circles at their own pace. Once one group of letters is learned, the child moves on to the next group until all twenty-six letters and sounds have been learned. Children receive certificates suitable for framing after each Reading Circle level is passed.
Next comes a series of beginner books called “Little Books.” In these books, “blends” are introduced: putting consonants and vowels together. After this, simple one-vowel words are taught. Once the students have mastered the Little Books, more advanced series of books are begun, leading all the way up to the kindergarten reading books and more complex words.
Because the kids learn at their own pace, they are never pushed too fast or held back; the instruction is always right at the child’s personal level. The result: kids who read! The certificates and books the kids take home keep parents informed of their children’s progress, and the kids love them! We hear all the time about how they read their books over and over at home. Parents can barely believe that three and four-year-olds are reading actual books!
We love to hear about the excitement parents have when they realize their child is truly reading. Maybe it’s in the grocery store when their child starts reading the label on a jar, or in the car when their child sounds out the words on a street sign. It’s a great feeling — there is nothing more precious than a child’s learning.
The A Beka phonics program that we use is at least two grade levels ahead of the public school. Each year, many of our students graduate from the pre-K program already reading the A Beka kindergarten books. This means they are reading at a third-grade level, something quite common with our students. It is not unheard of for our kindergarteners to graduate reading the second-grade reading books. Our students not only learn to read, they learn to read fluently. For a fluent reader, reading is not a chore, it’s a joy!
Teaching reading is what we do, and we’ve been doing it for nearly thirty years in Southwest Florida. We are excited to have the opportunity to be a part of your child’s life! You can find out more about Grace Community School at www.gracecommunityschools.com. If you are a Grace Community School parent, here’s a question for you: when and how did you first learn your child could read? Let us know in the comments below or share with us on Facebook!