In early childhood literacy parents’ involvement demand high importance for the following reasons:
Lot of children are home spending most of the time with their parents.
Research show that one million working mothers with home business, work from home, so that they can spend time with their kids. Five thousands have kids below 6 years of age. Therefore a lot of very young children spend a lot of time with their moms. These children need direct help to be talked, and read in a consistent way.
Research constantly demonstrate that parents and care takers of young children have the greatest impact on early childhood literacy. The way the parents talk, whether they use rich language or not, will impact the child’s language acquisition.
According to NAEYC, the early years are learning years.
Now, how can parents help in their this early childhood literacy :
Talk to your baby, your toddler, your preschooler and show that your emotions can be articulated. With the very young child give words with concrete example. For example, show the thing with its name. Ask the child to give it to you. That way the child shows that she demonstrates the correlation of the object and the word. . Encourage the child to say the name of the object.
With older children give them a richer language with nuances, to build up a bigger and better vocabulary..
Give him printed words:
Around three the child might show interest in printed words and signs in her environment – like, EXIT, RESTROOM, Mc. Donald etc. The child gets the idea that those letters and then the words mean something. Write the child’s name and let her see that in various things.
As the child grows give more of that experience. You may write little notes like I love you or Have a happy day and put them in his lunch box. This may be a beginning step of reading where the child understands the value of printed words and how they convey emotions- the importance of reading and writing.
When the child sees you reading, buying books to celebrate special occasions, collecting books in your library, or going to the library, those are foundation for early childhood literacy.
Movable alphabets : Around 4, the child may show interest in phonics.He is learning through his auditory discrimination skill. He might find out that a letter consistently make the same sound. Several letters in a special arrangement make a special word, Some words together make sentences that want to say something. This may not happen all at once but the child is ready for that.
This is the time to show him how moving the alphabets we can change the sounds and make words, silly words and sounds. Give him magnetic letters and let him play with them.
You may see that the child points out to signs like K mart or SAFEWAY . You may think he is reading now. Do a little experiment – print the word KMART or Safeway – can he read them? If he is not using his phonic reading skill he may not. But how can he read when you give him Kmart? Because he is using his visual discriminating skill.
We must use this skill of the child in beginning reading . Give him flash cards with pictures at the back. The child will quickly learn to read those letters or words and feel great.
Books and Music:
The most important thing in early childhood literacy is the ability to comprehend and have the concentration and willingness to listen to a story or read. For this a short story telling activity may be good . Similarly, sequence work, what happened after what, or celebrating the child’s own made up story are wonderful exercises for early childhood literacy.
Along with that you may find great books and music in any good book store and in the library. Here are some interesting classic ones:
Classic chain or circular stories–
50 Below Zero 0 by Robert Mursch
Cumulative stories where every time a new event occurs the previous events are repeated. Children love when they can predict and take part.
Not Me Said the Monkey – by Colin West
The Ginger Bread Man
Familiar Experience that use recognizable themes like the days of the week or months of the year.
The Grouchy Lady Bug – by Eric Carle
The Hungry Caterpillar – by Eric Carle
Question and Answer type where the same or similar questions are repeated through out the story.
Are You My Mother – by P.D.Eastman
Brown Bear Brown Bear – by Bill Martin
Around four years of age the child may show interest in writing his own story with illustration. At this point give him a journal and help him write it. It is perfectly okay to accept his wrong spellings as long as his invented spellings have his own rule. For example the child may write – u r my bast tichr. It is better not to correct the child and criticize his writing for editorial reason at this point and kill his creative urge. Gradually expose him to correct spelling.
Experts in this field conclude that it is the richness of any language that matters most in early childhood literacy
If English is not your first language and you feel more comfortable with your native tongue, by all means use that with your child. Preschool years are great for learning a second language
Several studies including Prof. Linda M.Espinnnosa,( Early Childhood Univ of Missouri, Columbia.) conclude that bilingual children who are exposed to another language ( from 3 – 8 years of age ) performed better ultimately in high school level than a monolingual counter part in Academic Achievement tests. So even if it may not show in the early years, bilingual children do catch up later and they should not be prevented from the rich language experience of their native language.
The most important thing in early childhood literacy is exposure to the richness of language and a consistent, loving, reading atmosphere.