Although there are four components of the language arts, it seems we give the most attention to reading and writing. But listening and speaking are equally important and lead up to reading and writing in a developmental progression. In fact, literacy expert Gay Su Pinnell has stated that oral language is the foundation of literacy learning.
That’s why quality conversations are important...and that’s the topic of a Redleaf Press-sponsored segment of Studentcentricity, in which Stephanie Curenton, Sonia Cabell, and Heidi Veal joined me to talk about talking.
Here are Heidi’s thoughts following the conversation:
Getting students in early childhood settings talking should be a top priority for all early childhood educators. I believe it is a doorway to a child's future development. In order for young children to develop oral language, they have to be provided time to hear quality language modeled and practice speaking with adults and peers alike. Creating environments where interaction is the norm is key!
This happens in several ways. First, young students must feel safe and loved in their learning environment. Acquiring and practicing language is a natural thing, but also involves taking a risk. A child will explore and experiment with new language when they know their teachers are invested in them and feel safe in their care. Second, rich oral language must be modeled by educators and scaffolded at every opportunity. This requires listening, really listening, to young children when they speak and engaging them in conversations that introduce and reinforce the new vocabulary they are acquiring.