Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023 |
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Literacy begins with a solid foundation
by Anna Peters and Cathy Shanks – Special to the garden island
Literacy, as most of us know, is about reading. But actually it encompasses much more than that. It starts in the beginning when children are learning about the world around them, that through words and language the foundation of literacy is being developed. Here are some tips that you can do to begin to encourage the process of literacy:
• Infants — talk to your baby during bath time, diapering, feeding and playtime. Read board books with colorful pictures to your infant and toddler, point out the pictures, identify the objects. Do finger plays, sing songs and recite nursery rhymes, look into your child’s eyes when doing this, so you know whether baby is connecting with you, you will know by their response to you.
• Toddlers — when riding in a car or going shopping, point out signs, identify objects or places, i.e. parks, post offices, stores. Tell them what it is there for; “We go to the park to play, we go to that store to buy food.” The more you talk to your child, the more words they will acquire, increasing their word level. Ask your child questions, but do give them some time to process that information. Children process information through their experiences, so they will respond to your questions by what they know. Books are a great way to increase their vocabulary and knowledge about the world around them. Read a board book with short stories and talk through the book with your child, pointing to the pictures, asking your child to identify the objects if they are able to speak. If not tell them the words so they can begin to put meaning to a picture. Your child may have a favorite book and may want you to read it over and over again. Children love repetition and it helps them to learn their world better. After a while, your child may be reading that same book to you, through memory and recall. Provide a large crayon with paper (monitor that they do not try to eat it) and let them begin to scribble on this. Encourage their scribble by talking about their picture; “I see you used red, yellow and orange colors. You made some circles and lines. Can you tell me about your picture”?
• By preschool, your child can pretend to write a shopping list for you. They will begin to understand that words have meanings (pre-literacy skills). Continue to read on a daily basis, pointing to words as you read. Ask open-ended questions about the story you just read, such as: Why do you think the girl brought the teddy bear? Asking “how” and “why” question aids your child to begin to develop critical thinking and comprehension skills. Reading also expands your child’s attention span by having them focus on the story. Be sure the book is appropriate for their age level. Take books a step further by having your child draw a picture about the book and have them tell you about their picture. By you writing their thoughts on their artwork will reinforce that words have meanings.
As parents, we cannot wait for our children to enter kindergarten. There teachers begin to teach reading skills and parents can depend on the school system to do it all if children haven’t been exposed to the basic foundations.
As parents, we need to be proactive in the future of our children’s learning, beginning with “the early years.” Research states how 80 percent of a child’s brain develops by the age of 3. Learning should be fun. Children are always learning within their environment and through the interactions with others.
Parents — provide rich, stimulating, nurturing experiences for your children, so they are able to explore their world around them. By following the tips provided, you are committing yourself to be vested in your child’s learning and providing a foundation for your child to be ready and successful in school.
For more ideas, call Anna Peters, Kaua‘i Good Beginnings Coordinator at 632-2114 or Cathy Shanks, PATCH at 246-0622. The Kaua‘i Good Beginnings Council Public Awareness Committee provides this article.
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