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Right from the start – helping develop your child’s early literacy skills January 30, 2015

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This month at our school in communications with parents we are focusing on literacy development. I would like to share some memories, ideas and thoughts on literacy development for the prereader.
One of my earliest memories of literacy development with my first born, Anna, is from April 30, 1981. April 30 is my birthday. On this day in 1981 my mother, Florence, was staying with us. I woke late, in a panic because Anna had not woken us, as she usually did. Her baby bed was empty – more panic. I found Anna, then aged three months, in bed with my mam. They were looking at my birthday cards together, and had been doing so for a long time. My mam would show Anna a card, and she would focus on the picture. Then my mam would read the words and greetings. Anna was so happy tucked into bed with her Nana, sharing special time. The birthday cards were like one of her first books. This reminds me that it is never too early to begin sharing stories with your child. Even before your babies are born, you can sing songs and tell them nursery rhymes. They hear you! In a few days Anna will be thirty – four and she still loves stories, and books!
All of my children had favorite books that we read over and over again. Later I would hear them ‘reading’ these books to themselves. They had memorized the words, but they were also developing an understanding of how books and stories worked. They were developing their sight vocabulary. They were learning to use the pictures as clues and prompts to tell the story.
We took books everywhere we went, and would visit the library at least once a week, and struggle home with as many books as we could. (No car, and hardback books are heavy!)
So we read, memorized, looked at pictures, and played games to learn about sounds. We played ‘I spy’ with a small selection of objects that began with different sounds – e.g. hat, sock, mitten, boot, cup. First we named the objects, and then played ‘I spy something that begins with ‘s’ . . . sock!
Around the dinner table, we played “I spy someone whose name begins with J . . . Johnjoe!”
At bath time, we played “I’m going to wash a part of your body that starts with ‘t’ . . . tummy!” Sometimes I would trace a letter on their backs and ask them to imagine what it was. “That was ‘S’.”
We noticed environmental print – name cards and names on cubbies at school, stop signs, names of their favorite stores and restaurants, fire exit.
When I was reading to my children, I looked for opportunities to ask:
“What do you think will happen next?” (making predictions)
What do you already know about . . . (front loading the brain, making connections with their already existing knowledge. E.g. A book about snakes – snakes slither, some rattle, they can bite . . .)
We looked through the whole book and talked about all of the pictures before we began the story. (Taking a picture walk – a great support for beginning readers before they read a book.)
I acknowledged my children’s contributions to the storytelling experience. “That’s a good question.” “I wonder about that, too.” “Oh, I never noticed that in the picture.”
My husband and I let our children see us reading every day – newspapers, books, magazines.
We made simple shopping lists for our children, with words/pictures, so that they could help us shop. Their lists might have words/pictures for cheerios, milk, juice, yogurt and bananas. (I’m no artist, so I looked for items that were easy to draw!) Activities like this really teach the usefulness of reading, and it made shopping with kids more fun.
We slipped notes, with simple pictures, into their lunchboxes.
I looked for rhyming books that helped my children join in the telling of the story. I looked for books with predictable text, where my kids had a good chance of guessing what words might be. I looked for books without words, where the pictures told the story.
And I read, and I read and I read . . . knowing that at some point in the not too distant future my children would be reading independently, and I would miss the reading together times.
But let me tell you, when they are teenagers, a new joy emerges, the joy of a child saying, “Mom, have you read . . . . This is an awesome book!”


2014 in review January 3, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — bevfollowsthechild @ 10:31 pm

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,500 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 42 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.