Goal of this program sprung from a desire to bridge this knowledge gap for librarians who know a lot about books and a lot about working with children, but don’t have any formal teaching in this area. They also wanted to validate the importance of early library experiences. Libraries often give people warm, fuzzy feelings, and we KNOW they’re important, but this program gives us the science to back up our claims – and to back up what we already knew – that library experiences and experiences with books are vitally important to children’s development.
Knowledge of the alphabet at entry into kindergarten is a strong predictor of reading ability in the 10th grade. If a child is a poor reader at the end of the first grade, there is nearly a 90% probability that a child will remain a poor reader at the end of the fourth grade. 38% of the 4th graders in the US can’t read at a basic level. Of these, 10-15% drop out of high school. So here we get an idea of the importance of having these skills before Kindergarten and the urgency of reaching kids in this early stage. Kids that start school without these skills, struggle throughout their school life to catch up to grade-level skills. Giving kids the skills they need to succeed EARLY ON is a powerful tool to help them succeed from the beginning of school all the way through.
Anyone familiar with ECRR1? Another reason for the creation of this program was new research coming in on brain development. Connections are made by experiences and are kept by repetition. The first three years see the most rapid changes and formations of synapses due to the bombardment of experience (everything is new!). At this time, the brain is most flexible and prepared to learn. (plasticity) Connections that are not used are removed by &quot; pruning &quot; For example, a 3-year-old child has twice as many connections as an adult, but the child will lose half of those by the time he is 10 because they are not reinforced or used. The old saying, “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it!” is definitely true of your brain cells. That 10 year-year-old has nearly 500 trillion synapses, which is the same as the average adult.
Read slide. So, when do we start teaching second languages to our kids? Jr. High and High School! When the brain has already pruned away that part of the brain. Language learning really starts at birth. Let’s think about infants for a minute. How old do you think a baby is before it can distinguish between two different languages? Babies can distinguish between two languages and prefer their own language when they are just 48 hours old. (from Einstein Never Used Flashcards by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Robert Michnick Golinkoff, 2003, p.68.) Don’t get me wrong, it is never too late to encourage literacy , but it is much easier to encourage it before a child begins kindergarten. In late childhood (age 9-10), a child cannot learn a first language fully or naturally. This child has missed the “developmental window,” the critical period for acquiring language. His brain has “pruned” away those connections, due to lack of use. *Case of Genie who was severely abused and neglected, was rescued at age 13, but never learned to speak. Although she learned some words, she never had fluency in a language. The same thing is true of birds… Like humans, bird-brains have specialized areas that are just for song learning and production (language). If they don’t learn their birdsongs at a crucial time of development, their songs are over-simplified. Birds need to hear their species-specific birdsong soon after birth, in order to acquire the ability to produce complex sounds.
So, we know that early childhood is a critical stage in a child’s learning life, so how do teach them what they need to know? Well, what they need are Early Literacy Skills. Early literacy is what children learn about reading and writing before they can actually read or write. We are not trying to teach children to read, but we’re giving them the tools they will need to be ready to learn when they go to school. Teaching these skills begins at birth. And as we saw earlier, it is important for kids to start Kindergarten already having these skills.
Background on how ECRR1 used these 6 skills. Tried to teach these 6 skills to parents, 6 is too many and names were too complicated. Put off a lot of people, sounded too academic. Also problems with the workshops they designed – too specific and kids not invited. Six skills have been identified which get children ready to read. The skills are: Print Motivation which is loving books Vocabulary which is learning new words Print Awareness which is using books Letter Knowledge or the ABCs Narrative Skills or storytelling Phonological Awareness or Sounds If we know what these skills are it can make it easier to encourage the development of these skills in everyday interactions with children. No fancy toys are required to help a child get ready to read (except maybe a library card!) We will now go into more specific detail about each of these 6 Skills so you will be armed with these tools as well.
Print Awareness is noticing print everywhere; knowing how to handle a book; knowing how we follow the words on a page. For babies – let them play with books, have board books around, read to them from the beginning. For toddlers – read books about their favorite things, let them turn the page, hold the book upside down and see if they notice. For preschoolers – follow words on the page with your finger, environmental print. Environmental print – this shows them that words are everywhere and once they are able to read, they will not only unlock the world of books, but they unlock the whole world all around them!
Print Motivation is a child's interest in and enjoyment of books. At this point in a child’s development, The more pleasurable book sharing is, the more regular and frequent an activity it will become. If a child does not associate reading with something they enjoy it will be difficult for them to learn to read It is difficult for a child to focus on a book when a lot of other things are going on. Turn off the distractions (TV or radio). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under 2 years of age watch no TV at all. Children ages older than 2 should not have combined screen time (TV, Computer, video games) of more than 2 hours per day. Studies have shown that children who are playing in a room where the TV is on, even if they are not watching it, engage in a shallower and less complex levels of play than children who are playing in a room with no distractions.
A toddler is capable of learning 9 new words each day! Children need to know as many words as you can teach them. Why? Because later on when they learn to read, if they do not know what something is, it is a lot harder to read. Think about sounding out the word “carrot”. If you are fluent in a language other than English, research shows that it is best for you to speak to your child in the language you know best. This allows your child to hear language spoken fluently and allows you to explain many things to the child that you might not be able to do in English. By learning concepts and discussing thoughts and ideas, the child is exercising his mind. Then he will be able to translate what he knows when he gets to school, rather than having to learn both the concept and the English word at the same time. [Patton O. Tabors . One Child, Two Languages . Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes, 1997.] A four or five-year old is at the “perfect” age to learn a second language. They can learn sign language and spoken language at the same time. If you expose them to languages systematically and regularly, they can easily learn multiple languages.
Research findings by Dr. Janellen Huttenlocher of the University of Chicago show that the growth in vocabulary in children under two years of age is clearly linked to the extent that the mothers talk with them. Mothers who have a high level of speech (language interactions per hour) have children with many more vocabulary words than children of mothers who have a low level of speech. The more parents talked with the babies and toddlers, the more vocabulary the children had. By the time they were two years old, the children whose mothers had a high level of speech with their children had a vocabulary five times as high as those children whose mothers had a low level of speech.
Narrative Skills is the ability to describe things and events, and to tell stories Why is it important? Helps children understand what they read What can parents do? 1.) Say to the names of things (both real and pictures in books) 2.) Be descriptive in their speech (Child: “It’s a tree.” Parent: “It’s a tall tree… with green leaves”) 3.) Listen as child tries to talk (Be patient) 4.) Tell their child stories, stressing the order of events (This builds sequencing skills) 5.) Narrate the life of their child, their child’s daily events 6.) Give the child words to describe his or her feelings
Patience! It takes time for children to hear and understand what you say, then to decide what to say and actually physically say it.
Phonological Awareness is the ability to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words. Why is this important? Helps children sound out words as they begin to read. -Hearing words that rhyme helps your child learn that words are made up of smaller parts. -Songs have different note for each syllable, helps children break down words. How can parents reinforce these skills? 1.) Nursery rhymes. 2.) Repetition is important. This is how children learn. 3.) Singing throughout the day, during routines such as diapering, bathing, etc. 4.) Making up their own songs (about the child, about the child’s daily activities) Willaby Wallaby Woo, Is this a Floon? (spoon). These work across all age groups. Children who have trouble learning to read once they reach school usually have the most trouble with this skill.
Letter Knowledge is knowing that letters are different from each other, that they have different names and sounds. What can parents do? Babies and toddlers need to understand things through their senses. This skill begins with distinguishing differences in things – learning shapes, shape sorters, puzzles – this is the beginning of letter knowledge! For preschoolers, make sure to make letters in lots of different ways – singing, talking about them, practice writing them, make them out of play dough, draw them in the sand, felt or magnet letters…
From 6 skills to 5 practices – when we talked earlier about how to teach the 6 skills, they really boiled down to talking, singing and reading with your child. They added an emphasis on writing and playing and came up with these 5 skills.
Points to make Not all reading skills are equal. Research by Dr. Scott Paris (2006) pointed to skills that have short-term and long-term impact on becoming a good reader. These are “constrained” and “unconstrained” skills, respectively. Constrained skills include decoding skills like noticing print and knowing letter names and sounds. Constrained skills: Have a fixed end point; once they are mastered, you don’t continue to learn more about these skills. For example, once a child recognizes the letters of the alphabet in their different forms (lowercase and uppercase, in different fonts, etc.), he or she does not keep getting better at naming letters. Vary in when children learn them. The age at which children learn letter sounds can vary. Most children, however, learn letter sounds and other constrained skills by about 3rd grade. Help you learn other skills but are not an end in themselves. Unconstrained skills include vocabulary and comprehension. These skills: Do not have an end point. Children continue to learn new vocabulary and improve comprehension throughout their school years. Take longer to learn. As children continue to have literacy experiences, their acquisition of vocabulary and comprehension skills will accelerate, and they will become better and better at understanding what they read. Parents and caregivers can help children develop constrained and unconstrained skills with ECRR 2nd Edition.
Points to make Every Child Ready to Read ® 2nd Edition incorporates the following recommendations from the evaluation of ECRR 1st Edition: Workshops are based on updated research and use less educational jargon. Workshops present strategies for developing early literacy skills within the framework of five early literacy practices: talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing. The five practices are familiar to parents and caregivers, which makes them easier to use and integrate into everyday life. The five practices can be adapted and used with children of different ages. ECRR 2 nd Edition emphasizes the importance of vocabulary, background knowledge, and comprehension. These are skills that children continue to learn throughout their school years. The importance of a stimulating learning environment is also highlighted. Children learn early literacy skills by interacting with adults and also by interacting with their physical surroundings. Attributes of supportive early literacy and learning environments are described. Workshop content is provided through PowerPoint presentations. Talking points serve as guidelines for information to cover. Workshop formats are modular for greater flexibility. Presentations can be customized with different activities, as well as with logos, photos, and other information. Handouts that correlate to the five early literacy practices and booklists for each practice are provided as .pdfs or Word documents.
Points to make Design principles provide a framework for connecting what we know about creating and organizing effective learning spaces with what we do to create rich, inviting, and engaging spaces for young children. Here are five principles to guide the design of early literacy and learning spaces. Principle 1: Use design elements (color, shapes, textures, light, space) to create an appealing environment. Principle 2: Provide attractive and well organized materials and displays. Principle 3: Provide easy access to materials, interactive displays, and learning activities. See the environment from children’s eye level. Principle 4: Design with flexibility in mind. Principle 5: Create interactive spaces. Let’s look more closely at each of these principles.
Points to make Children love to count, measure, sort, and compare. Use their natural interest in math to help them learn new words and concepts. Recognizing patterns, classifying, and solving problems are also important pre-reading skills.
Points to make Parents may not feel they know how to help their children get ready to read. The six skills in the first edition of Every Child Ready to Read ® were hard for some parents to remember. The second edition of Every Child Ready to Read ® presents five simple practices that can be done at home to help children learn important early literacy skills and get ready to read. These practices are more familiar to parents. They are easy to incorporate into everyday routines. Because they are fun to do, parents are more likely to use these practices on a regular basis to help their children develop early literacy and pre-reading skills.
Community – aren’t these little preschoolers our patrons too? We want what is best for them. And long-term, helping them develop skills they need to succeed in school – and life – will only help our communities in the long run. And we may even get some lifelong patrons and supporters. Use Tax Dollars Wisely – I believe that libraries already strive to do things the very best they can. That’s the kind of people that librarians are. But, now that we’re armed with this knowledge and understand the importance of early literacy education, what can we be doing better? How can we use that knowledge to help support what our local school system is doing. How can we partner with them to make the most of everyone’s resources? National push – the National Association for the Education of Young Children is pushing for national standards in child care centers and preschools. How many of your school districts now provide preschool to the public? And that’s besides Head Start programs and other private preschool programs that are being offered. Parents – as a children’s librarian for 8 years, parents often looked to me for advice or help and I didn’t always feel that I was prepared to answer. This program gave me some education and some ammunition to answer questions and feel like I could help parents make good choices when it came to picking out books
Each library will be different and this research shouldn’t change entirely how you do everything. What it should do is reinforce the importance of library service to children and make you more aware of early literacy skills and how the library can support these in families.
Early Beginnings: A guide for early childhood administrators and professional development providers review the early predictors of later success in reading and writing, reflect on the knowledge and training needed by teachers to improve current practice, read suggestions for planning literacy activities based on research evidence, understand what to look for in a successful classroom literacy environment. Multnomah County library is in Oregon. I give them as a reference site because they have a lot of this material up on their website for you to refer back to if you want to look at it later on. Dept of Ed publications would be great for handing out to parents. And don’t forget your local resources here at the library. Karen and Marci Retzlaff have an extensive background with children’s literature and working with children, so take advantage of their knowledge when you’re looking for books to read with different age groups!
Jessica Chamberlain Northeast Library System
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)