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Schedule a conference with your child's teacher to find out why. By 1st grade, your child should definitely have moved beyond simple memorization and be learning how to "break the code" so that he can read independently. Breaking the code means learning all of the sound-spelling correspondences so that he can see a letter and make the corresponding sound and then blend several sounds together to say a word. He will still memorize the words that can't be decoded (such as "was" and "the"), but he will learn that reading is not memorizing words but decoding them. For preschoolers, memorization is a natural outcome of repeated readings of the same book; that is, it's an important first step, but one that first graders should be moving beyond. It's absolutely essential to get him on the right road to reading in 1st grade, so don't hesitate to talk to his teacher.
Elaine K. McEwan-Adkins, Ed.D., has been a teacher, school librarian, principal, and assistant superintendent for instruction in the suburbs of Chicago.