It is never too early to start comprehension instruction. In fact, reading begins with meaning making. Andie Cunningham and Ruth Shagoury designed a reading program for five- and six-year-olds based on this premise.
Most of the students in Andie's Portland, Oregon, kindergarten class have little or no alphabet knowledge when they enter the classroom in the fall. English is a secondor thirdlanguage for many of the children in this low-income neighborhood. Through research-based principles, carefully structured routines, and innovative activities, even the youngest learners can develop comprehension skills from their first days in school.
The children in Starting with Comprehension are grappling with school culture for the first time and learning to work with classmates who speak a variety of different languages. These emergent readers learn to present their understanding of what they read through writing, talk, movement, and art.
Kindergartners and preschoolers are different from readers who know how to decode texts. Andie and Ruth show how comprehension skills can be nurtured and strengthened even before decoding begins. In this classroom, meaning making becomes part of community building as children link reading, thinking, and communicating.