Welcome to my latest blog post. This post is a little different from previous pieces and is dedicated to the subject of Early Literacy.
In the first three years of a child’s life we all know that they accomplish so many different milestones. Their young brains are amazing. Early Literacy encompasses a great many aspects and though sharing books with your little ones is important, it is not the only aspect or practice of Early Literacy we could be supporting preschool children with.
Interacting and the ability to communicate well with others begins from a young age. Babies learn to talk by being spoken to and talk is the best way to teach new concepts, explore different vocabulary and build relationships with people. Even before birth a baby is exposed to different sounds and voices that it hears whilst in the womb. These sounds provide comfort and stability.
Conversation needs to be modelled and though a baby won’t be able to respond just yet, he will always be listening. Even if your child is a day young let them know you are close by by talking to them. Tell them what you’re doing, what you’re about to do and get siblings talking to baby too. As the child gets older their ability to talk and communicate will support the child forming their own identity, have the confidence to talk and support them in expressing their feelings and emotions.
Listening is something that needs to be practiced also. As well as in conversation but also on sounds heard within the environment. This aspect will then be further explored when your child begins to work on phonics.
You may enjoy reading a previous blog post 7 books to support langauge developement in 1 year olds and up.
Singing is a lovely way of having fun with your babies and toddlers. Babies will appreciate the varied intonation and expressive faces used and toddlers will enjoy completing actions to the songs and moving around to the sounds of music. Singing allows children to hear vocabulary in an alternative way and it slows down language so sounds and syllables become more significant. Awareness of rhyme is also important for preschoolers and singing rhymes can support this.
Introducing actions to song gives children another way of communicating and this could be further extended by teaching your child sign language or makaton.
Songs sung could include nursery rhymes, songs sung to you as child perhaps or even made up ones which I am very guilty of doing.
Play allows children to connect processes together. It is imperative for children to be able to play and in turn this will support children with their thinking and communicating. It is important that we play alongside children also, that they can see us being silly and that we model skills such as sharing and taking turns. It is also important that we allow them their independence also. At the beginning this will be difficult but gradually knowing that their carer isn’t too far away they will begin to play in this way. Children learn so well through engaging activities. Activities that are fun and stimulate their senses will attract children more including music and dance.
Often Early Years teaching can be misunderstood as there is “so much play involved” but these skills are the building blocks to creating competent learners rather then children who are introduced to formal learning too quickly and feel anxious as a result of it.
Play can also incorporate other aspects of Early Literacy. For example, role play, playing cafes, doctors, fire fighters, these all support language development and give ideas and concepts more meaning to children. Modelling to children how we talk to customers, how we write their food orders or react to different scenarios is all a positive step to allowing children to understand how communication and literacy includes reading and writing also.
Reading on a daily basis to your child can support your child in becoming a lifelong reader. It can also give children a better start to formal learning and research indicates that a child who reads as a hobby will do better in education including in non literacy based subjects.
Reading should be fun and if the book isn’t being enjoyed by your child move on to another. You could try that same book on another day but ultimately reading time should be seen as a special time where a book is enjoyed with no distractions and of course an opportunity for cuddles.
Listening to someone reading who is not being enthusitic is not pleasant so lots of enthusiasm is key. It’s great for children to see adults modeling how to read, how they handle a book, how a page is turned. Whether it be fiction or non-fiction it’s great to have some books at home for a child to explore. Signing up to your library is a great way of trying out different reads. Also, are there any friends or family members who have books that their children have outgrown? Charity shops are also a great place to find books. I also have lots of recommendations here on my blog for you to explore. : )
As well as reading the book with your child asking questions about what’s been shared is important. With younger children you may be more reliant on pointing things out amongst the illustrations but as the child gets older you could ask more questions, about the story itself, characters, how the book made them feel. Remember to give your child time to reply.
As this piece is exploring Early Literacy in preschoolers we need to be realistic about our expectations on the writing aspect. However, having the opportunity to draw, colour in, paint, use chalks all support pre writing skills. Such activities allow children to be expressive and in turn children will make links that writing is another aspect of literacy. It can then show children that words written down are the same words used when we talk to each other.
As mentioned earlier getting children to “write” whilst playing and role playing is another way of showing how all these different skills can be used in many different situations.
You may enjoy a previous blog post Pre School Activities using Pipe Cleaners.
Early Literacy encompasses different aspects and in order for it to be engaging it is important that we make it fun for our little ones. In turn this focus on these five aspects can support children in exploring the next stage of literacy where letter sounds and phonological awareness come in to play.
I have previously had questions asked about Early Literacy so I do hope my blog post has answered these. Until my next blog post, happy reading.