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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in emergent literacy
Posted by on in Early Childhood

child reading

Littles say the funniest things. The other day I asked “What’s your Mommy’s name?” Reply- Mommy.” Get what you ask for, right?

Childhood is a precious time. What’s the rush?

I’m back at school, year two, one week in, hired under a Literacy Grant, a good thing and not so good. What’s great is I have an opportunity to fine-tune teaching littlest learners, emergent readers. I was really winging it last year.

Students who returned are lots bigger, now the “biggers”, having moved up the ladder.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

letter flashcards

It’s becoming more and more commonplace to see programs using flashcards and worksheets in their attempt to jumpstart literacy development. These early academic activities are touted as best approaches and provide tangible take-homes for anxious parents who don’t want their children to “get behind.”

Unfortunately, what’s really important to early literacy is largely being overlooked and the best opportunities to make learning matter are going unnoticed.

These programs need to stop the nonsense and expense of fancy and unnecessary academic curriculum. Instead, there needs to be a focus on just 5 things, using an approach that is age-appropriate, meaningful, and purposeful to young children.  Research tells us that these 5 are the best predictors of early literacy:

speaking to child

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Posted by on in Literacy

Girl reading

I have returned from an incredibly inspiring reading conference. Some of the most notable literacy experts in the country presented. I attended many break-out sessions to increase my knowledge of great literacy practices. I even presented one myself entitled, ”Creating a School-Wide Culture of Literacy.”

One of the controversial topics that was addressed often was whether or not it was a good idea to “bribe” students to read. My school has reading challenges over the breaks that reward children for reading while not in school. For every break we have a challenge and the ante continues to go up. I will do anything to get children to read. Anything.

We bring in authors to do assemblies with children. We have Minute-to-Win-It games for children who read over breaks. There are experience incentives such as “Principal for a Day” and soccer lessons with the high school coach. I beg anyone who can offer time with a child to donate an experience to reward children for reading.

We have an annual Vocabulary Parade where children dress up to represent their favorite word. Families decorate pumpkins to be the favorite book character. We bring the local library in to sign families up for library cards during parent teacher conferences and all adults in the building, everyone, has to keep current a sign that displays what is currently being read. This includes the custodian, cafeteria workers, and the office staff.

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Posted by on in Studentcentricity

Conversation CompassAlthough 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.

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