Early literacy in children begins in the first three years of life and is related, many times, to a child’s first exposure to books, stories and writing.
It’s a fact that only 10 percent of students who read poorly by the end of first grade learn to read proficiently later in life. Experts also estimate that nearly 40 percent of U.S. fourth graders do not achieve basic levels of reading proficiency. The world of early childhood education is filled with statistics like these.
“Children begin the process of learning to read from the moment of birth,” says Walter Sawyer in Growing up with Literature. “They are engaged in learning to read when they first begin to listen for the voice of a parent, the rhythm of a story, or the soothing sounds of a lullaby.”
Most people’s basic understanding of literacy means an ability to read and write, but for young children, literacy means more than just knowing the ABCs. Given what we know now about the way in which young minds develop, literacy has taken a new direction in classrooms today. By building on the beliefs of basic literacy and assembling new curriculum, children are learning in ways that are not only easier for them to understand but also stick with them for life.
Out with the old literacy trends and in with the new
Teachers used to just read to their classes or ask the students to read aloud individually give, but some of today’s classrooms have adopted new literacy trends. Within these classrooms there are areas with large collections of books, reading response boards, subject study areas and vocabulary boards with new words children are learning.
“We use all research-based strategies before, during and after reading,” said Kathryn Starke, literary specialist, children’s book author and founder of Creative Minds Publications. “After reading, we do a variety of comprehension activities from tossing a ball from one person to the next to retell the story or even make a movie poster displaying the beginning, middle and end of the story through their own words and pictures.”
Games also feature heavily in Starke’s teaching of nonfiction stories. Her classes will often play a team game to answer story questions.
While ball-tossing and poster-making are effective strategies to promote literacy, they’re not the only techniques teachers can use in the classroom. Some of the newest trends for promoting literacy in young children today include:
Head out of the classroom for the day and take a field trip. There are several opportunities for promoting literacy to children through newspapers, billboards and street signs. Check out resources to also promote early literacy through online interactive games.
When reading, ask questions in the middle of the story to see if children are actively listening. Also, ask about characters or how the story could have played out differently to test comprehension.
Add a little enthusiasm to the story by acting it out. Add drama with your tone of voice, use accents for characters in the story and show emotion in your facial expressions.
Promoting literacy to children doesn’t have to stop when the book closes. Ask about the story throughout the day in conversation or pick three new vocabulary words for the students to begin learning and using.
Libraries are a great resource for promoting literacy in young children. There’s an abundance of books, live storytelling and sometimes even interactive plays to actively promote literacy in young children.
Research from the National Institute for Early Education Research has shown that early learning experiences and literacy are linked with academic achievement, reduced grade retention, higher graduation rates and enhanced productivity later in life.
A child’s academic success by age nine is also credited to how much conversation they hear from 0-3 years old, so using techniques like these can play a huge role in a child’s healthy development.
Change the direction of early literacy
When it comes to promoting literacy, California is at the forefront of early childhood education. Their literacy preschools are promoting the new trends by encouraging parents to join their children to practice reading and telling stories together. With programs like these, children tend to be more engaged while reading together and have high scores in school readiness.
Do you want to help promote the new trends of early childhood literacy? You don’t have to move to California and you don’t have to wait until you have an education degree. A few ways you can help out today are by volunteering at a local school, childcare center or library by reading child development books to children.