One of our top priorities at Eastside Christian School (ECS) is to help children learn how to read and enhance their verbal fluency and vocabulary. This is a focus area for our kindergarten, first, and second grades (K-2). Our teachers firmly believe that reading readiness begins at home. Parents who surround their children with age-appropriate books and, even more importantly, read to and with their children instill an interest in books that grows into a passion as children learn to read books for themselves and share insights and ask questions of family members. As described in a recent editorial in The Seattle Times, stories feed children’s curiosity, develop their patience, provide them a way to express their thoughts, feelings, and conclusions, and give birth to independent thought.

ECS nurtures this passion for reading in many ways. Our K-2 teachers use an approach called intensive phonics to help children learn how to decode the sounds that combine to make words. They form reading groups that allow children to increase their fluency by reading to each other on progressively more challenging books. They also have computers available that use programs like Accelerated Reader (AR) to evaluate their comprehension of the books they are reading. It all becomes part of an integrated program for helping your children discover the wonder of reading.

The newest addition to the early reading program at ECS is our remodeled and enhanced library designed specifically with K-2 students and teachers in mind. We relocated our former library to a new room dedicated to former ECS teacher Glenda Benson. Glenda had a deep love of books which kept her teaching at ECS into her 80s. You can see a plaque outside the door of the new library with Glenda’s name and a butterfly because Glenda loved butterflies. For her, butterflies symbolized the metamorphosis that her students went through as they learned to read and to love the Lord. In addition to the physical space, the books in our library have been revitalized as well. Many tired volumes have been recycled and many new volumes were purchased based on student and teacher requests. We owe our Parent-Teacher Fellowship a big vote of thanks for donating the funds to remodel the library and purchase new books.

We encourage the parents of our K-2 students to read regularly to and with their students and discuss books with their children to help them build reading skills and learn how to become independent thinkers. In addition, we encourage the children to use their teacher-led trips to our ECS library as an opportunity to borrow some of our wonderful new books and discover the thrill of reading for themselves.

~ Carolyn Karkainen
ECS First Grade Teacher