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WHY WORRY ABOUT LEARNING BEFORE A CHILD STARTS SCHOOL? Knowledge of the alphabet at entry into Kindergarten is a strong predictor of reading ability in the 10th grade. Children who fall behind in oral language and literacy development in the years before formal schooling are less likely to be successful beginning readers; and their achievement lag is likely to persist throughout the primary grades and beyond. ~National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University, April 2006. In 2000, the Association for Library Service to Children and the Public Library Association responded to research studies that found a significant percentage of children were entering kindergarten without the early literacy skills needed to learn to read.
Early literacy is what children know about reading and writing before they can read or write
Six skills every child needs to be “Ready to Read” Phonological Awareness the ability to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words. Narrative Skills the ability to describe things and events and to tell stories. Letter Knowledge learning to name letters. Knowing they have sounds, and recognizing them everywhere. Print Awareness noticing print, knowing how to handle a book, and how to follow the written words on a page. Vocabulary knowing the names of things. Print Motivation a child’s interest in and enjoyment of books. What you do helps your child get ready to read.
Print Awareness: You’re never too young to enjoy books
Print Awareness is noticing print everywhere, knowing how to handle a book, and knowing how we follow the words on a page.
Some ways to teach print awareness:
Let children turn the pages in a book.
Occasionally, follow the words you are reading on a page with your finger.
Point out “environmental print” which are words on signs, cereal boxes, etc.
Print Motivation: Reading should be a positive experience
Children should associate books with cuddles and love.
It is more important for the reading experience to be positive than it is to read for a specific amount of time each day.
Some ways to teach print motivation:
Use interactive books with tabs, flaps and pop-ups.
Pick books with topics that interest the child and let children pick out their own books.
Read a book as many times as the child wants!
Make time for reading by shutting off the TV, computer and radio.
Children’s reading comprehension is affected by the variety of life experiences they have been exposed to, including the number of words they have heard. Reading books together is a powerful way to open up the world for children.
Some ways to encourage vocabulary learning:
Read lots of books!
Use unusual and specific words.
Label feelings and concepts.
Parents should speak with their children in their native language. This provides language fluency and allows the parent to explain things in richer vocabulary than trying to speak in a language in which they are not fluent.
ALA granted permission from Janellen Huttenlocher.
Narrative Skills: Children need to tell their own stories
The ability to describe things and events and to tell stories is Narrative Skills
Understanding that stories have a beginning, middle and end helps children to understand what they read and helps with reading comprehension later.
Some ways to teach Narrative Skills:
Expand on what a child says.
Ask questions to encourage more detail.
Be patient while a child talks! After you ask a question, pause for at least 5 seconds while you wait for the answer .
Talk about your day.
Hearing Words Seeing Words Speaking Words Generating Words Narrative Skills: Children need to tell their own stories PET Scans of the Brain
Phonological Awareness: Playing with sounds in words
Phonological Awareness is the ability to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words. This helps children sound out words as they begin to read.
Some ways to teach Phonological Awareness:
Sing songs and say rhymes.
Be silly and play with words.
Letter Knowledge: Children need to know the alphabet
Letter Knowledge is knowing that letters are different from each other and that they have different names and sounds.
From Early Literacy and Learning Spaces Workshop: “ Children need an environment: Rich in experience… Rich in play… Rich in teaching… Rich with people… Where they are significant.” From Caring Spaces, Learning Spaces by Jim Greenman
Use color, shapes, textures, light, and space to create an appealing environment.
Provide attractive and well organized materials and displays.
Provide easy access to materials, displays, and learning activities. See the environment at children’s eye level.
Design with flexibility in mind.
Make spaces interactive.
Use these design principles to help create effective early literacy and learning environments:
Children who start school ready to learn to read achieve higher levels of reading and academic success than other children.
Studies have shown that high quality early education could result in as much as a 16% annual rate of return on the initial investment. This includes lower costs to educate children who are ready to learn, reduced crime and social problems, and higher levels of income over the life of a child.*
*From “A Proposal for Achieving High Returns on Early Childhood Development” by Rob Grunewald and Arthur Rolnick, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, March 2006.
Early literacy is an investment in our children and their future. Investing time and other resources in early literacy has long-term benefits.
Math concepts are easy to include in everyday conversation. How many are there? Which one is the largest? Which one looks like a cone? Can you put them in order from smallest to largest? Help your child: • Count • Measure • Sort • Compare • Order From Fun with Math & ScienceWorkshop:
Five early literacy practices develop early literacy skills and help children get ready to read. Turn research into good early literacy practices at home and in childcare settings with simple early literacy practices that parents, caregivers and children can enjoy together.
Small, thoughtful changes or big, dramatic programs
Incorporate 5 practices and parent education into Storytime
Offer parent workshops & In-service program for child care workers
Foster awareness in the community – partnerships!
Helpful Links Every Child Ready to Read http://www.everychildreadytoread.org/ Early Beginnings: Early Literacy Knowledge and Instruction from the National Institute for Literacy: lincs.ed.gov/publications/pdf/NELP Early Beginnings09.pdf Multnomah County Library http://www.multcolib.org/birthtosix/earlyliteracy.html US Dept. of Education publications www.edpubs.gov (my favorite is the “Shining Stars” series)