How to Teach Childhood Literacy
The old expression still holds true: first you learn to read and then you read to learn. In a child’s earliest stages of education, the focus is almost entirely on mastering literacy skills. We all understand the challenges one faces if they never learned to read. So, as the little 4 or 5 year old heads off to school for the first time, they are setting the stage and laying the foundation for their entire future success. If in the next few years, the child has mastered early literacy instruction they will do well for the remaining school years.
So, it’s essential that both parents and teachers fully comprehend what should be included in early literacy learning strategies. According to the pamphlet The Essentials of Early Literacy Instruction by Kathleen Roskos, James Christie, and Donald Richgels,
“Effective early literacy instruction provides preschool children with developmentally appropriate settings, materials, experiences, and social support that encourage early forms of reading and writing to flourish and develop into conventional literacy.”
There are eight specific teaching techniques that are essential to early literacy learning that all teachers should know.
Students learn listening and verbal skills through conversation practice in various classroom settings. When teachers speak to young ones in either group or one-to-one sessions, they should endeavor to introduce new vocabulary that they are not likely to hear in their own every day encounters. When they express opinions to you as a teacher, repeat them back in an expanded form. For example, the student can say, “my mommy bought a car” but the teacher can repeat the phrase and expand the sentence with new vocabulary, “your mommy bought a brand new blue car.” By extending their phrases into grammatically mature ones you will build students vocabulaty naturally vocabulary and students will learn new things about their world and the language they will need to use in it.
In a storybook setting, young children need to master the concept of reading first. Reading aloud to the children encourages them to openly discuss the story in their own words. Support these story lines with related activities before, during, and after reading. If you’re reading in a one-to-one session, teach the child to properly hold the book. Using a finger as you read point the words you’re teaching them in the left to right progression. Stop occasionally to relate the events in the story to the real life experiences so that the child learned how to mentally process the information and make certain inferences - a skill that will be needed for further school studies.
The foundation of reading literacy is being able to decode the sounds of the written word. Phonics however, also helps a child to focus on the correct sounds of their own language; how sounds affect each other and are interrelated. Learning how to identify rhyme, alliteration, and sound matching are key tools that every young child should know and appreciate.
Children should be able to identify the letters of the alphabet and connect the related sounds to them. Make good use of materials that can be manipulated so that the child learned to identify, sequence, and use the letters in the right way. Alphabet books, magnetic letters, blocks, puzzles, charts, cards, etc. are all useful tools when it comes to teaching the basic alphabet. Throughout the day, draw attention to the different letters used in student’s names, in books, and other areas. This helps children understand that letters represent snames of things they are already familiar with.
There are at least four more teaching techniques that should be involved in teaching early childhood literacy (support for emergent reading, support for emergent writing, shared book experience, and integrated, content-focused activities). For more detailed information on this and more topics on teaching young children, visit http://www.naeyc.org/files/yc/file/200303/Essentials.pdf.
Once a child has become literate they will be able to connect with their world in many more ways. As we gain more knowledge about this stage of educational development of a child, more concepts and effective classroom strategies will be incorporated into the learning process. Still, no matter what technique you hope to apply, one key factor that should always be kept in mind is consistency. The more consistent we are in our teaching methods, the more likely the child will embrace the information, retain it, and use it in their everyday life.