Friday, April 27, 2012

The Daily 5...Let Go, Let Grow

This post is for teachers and homeschoolers.

But it's mostly for me. :)

If you're a teacher, you may have have read the book The Daily Five: Fostering Literacy Independence in the Elementary Grades. If not, I highly recommend it.

If you're unfamiliar with the book (whether teacher or homeschooler!), here's what I consider the essence...and the part that I want to remember:

Each day, children should have the opportunity to participate in 5 daily literacy activities:

1. Reading to themselves.
2. Reading to someone else.
3. Listening to reading.
4. Work on writing.
5. Spelling/word work.

Whether I'm in a public school classroom or working with homeschool students, I sometimes forget what's important. Kids need daily, uninterrupted time to improve their literacy skills. They need to:

1. Read to themselves by choosing the books and other meaningful texts that they find interesting. I'm not likely to be that interested--or learn nearly as much--from a book that someone else demands I read. Why should I expect more from children?

2. Reading to someone else. I've never made this a huge priority. Now we're doing something called "brother reading." My 9yo reads a picture book to his brother, using his best animated voice. My 6yo "reads" the pictures in one of his favorite, well-loved stories, to his older brother.

3. Listening to reading. This is huge for me. In public school I read to my students a lot. At home, it's not unusual for us to spend up to an hour on the couch, snuggling with a pile of books. I'm convinced that this is one of the main reasons that my children all love to read. I've understood that the #1 predictor of school success lies in how much a child was read aloud to. I believe it.

4. Work on writing. As in reading, kids are most likely to enjoy writing and want to write more, if they can write about what interests them. They need daily, uninterrupted time to do that. And they need exposure to a wide variety of writing so they have access to new ideas, models and incentive for putting pen to paper.

5. Spelling/word work. I think #5 is highly overrated. (My thoughts. Not the authors'!) It's not unusual for it to get the most focus, whether at home or at school. Reality is that if children are abundantly exposed to #1-4, this largely takes care of itself; and it's easy to fill-in the few places where it doesn't.

Another big thing I got out of the book? If you expect a child to do something independently, you need to give the child a lot of time to practice, building up with incremental steps. I cannot expect my 6yo to sit down and read independently for 30 minutes. But he can certainly build up to that, by starting with 3 minutes and adding on a minute a day.

The funny thing about this book? It describes what a lot of kids will do naturally, if given the time. But the irony is that kids' time is so often filled with things that we (adults!) put on them that they don't have time to grow these abilities.

Let go, let grow.

My new mantra. :)


  1. I've been using Daily 5 with my kiddos for 2 years now. My kiddos grow without hardly any effort on my part. I am the facilitator, they teach themselves and others. I love it.

    Second Grade Math Maniac Blog

    1. Casey, that's AWESOME!!! Your kids are so lucky! :)

  2. I love Daily 5! Although, to be honest I've been s-l-o-w-l-y implementing the parts that work for me over the past two years. I plan on trying to add even more aspects with CAFE next year.
    I love your new mantra!

    The Daily Cupcake…A Kindergarten Blog

    1. That makes total sense. I think it would take a lot of trial and error to figure out how best to communicate it to kindergarten kids. Sounds awesome!

  3. One thing we had a lot of from birth to Kindergarten was free time. This led to much creativity and love of reading! I agree with you on #5. We haven't done spelling work and I see the natural progression from phonetic spelling to conventional just from reading and doing free writing. I think so much time is wasted in doing things that adults think is important but the children have little interest in. Children are natural learners and they thrive given the time and the resources!

  4. I've heard of this book, but haven't had the chance to read it. I agreed with everything you said. Focus on the basics is sooooooooooooo important. I read with my kids everyday for school, and most nights before bedtime for a total of about 30 min -1 hour per kid. They all love books.

  5. I love this book, and I also highly reccommend it, I recently purchased the CAFE book that is by the same authors and it is wonderful also.


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