Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Encouraging Early Literacy

While early literacy may not mean early reading, it does mean children are introduced to reading and its concepts at an early age. This familiarity will foster a love of reading and motivate your child to learn to read.
Here are five strategies for encouraging early literacy:

1. It’s Never Too Early to Start Reading

…for an adult, that is. Your child is never too young for you to read to him or her. Even newborns can benefit greatly from being read to, sources say. This very early reading is not about teaching or learning anything specific; it’s just a low-key, fun time to read aloud to your infant. Keep up the habit. Reading to your child is the number one thing you can do to encourage early literacy.

2. Rhyming Games

Foster a love of words and language by making up rhymes and playing rhyming games. Kids often find rhymes really funny. Keep it light-hearted and fun.

3. Choose Books and Subjects They Like

While we all have to read things we don’t really love and enjoy, forcing that sort of thing at the beginning can hamper a child’s interest. Remember, this is to encourage literacy; there will be plenty of time in the future to read things that they don’t particularly enjoy!
To foster an interest in literacy, choose books, magazines, online articles, and so forth that tap into your child’s personal interests. Observe what your child likes to do – cooking, constructing buildings, spending time outside, water play, etc. – and pick up books and magazines about those subjects. Then read them together!

4. Accessibility

This one is so obvious you may not have thought about it! Keep appropriate books on a low level so crawling infants can explore them. Children can develop a life-long love of a character, genre, or topic just from “poking around” in the available books.

5. Use Books to Help with Transitions

For young children, transitioning from one activity to another can be challenging. A book can help. If you need to go cook dinner, for instance, read a story about cooking before heading to the kitchen. Before bath time, read a fun story about a child or baby taking a bath. Young children may also begin to learn that books hold relevance to everyday life.
A love of literacy, language, and reading is a gift you can give your children. It’s never too early to get started!

Food for Thought

These are not my words - they came to me fourth hand so I don't know whose words they are.  If they're yours, please let me know so I can credit you!

Yesterday, I was at an office supply store with my three young children.  And I was hungry.  So.  Hungry.  As you might expect, I was impatient and short with my children.
When my daughter asked another question, I felt like I might lose it.  Instead, I stopped to look at her in the eyes and said, “You know what I just realized?  I am feeling impatient at how long it’s taking us in the store.  The reason is that I am so hungry.  I can’t answer any more questions now, because I am hungry.  How about we go eat lunch, and then I will feel better and can answer more questions?”
What was most interesting about this moment was how easily I could forgive my short-tempered behavior or my disengaged shopping.  Yes, my behavior was less-than-wonderful, but I was hungry.  As I reflected on the moment, it dawned on me: Do we expect more our children than we do of ourselves?
Consider these moments…
Do we expect our children to wake up, chipper, ready to greet the day with a bright and cheerful smile?  I love the snooze button, and need a good 30 minutes out of bed with caffeine before I’m ready to talk.
Do we expect our children to adore playing side-by-side with their siblings or peers all day long, squabble free?  I get tired of being with people, and need space for quiet.
Do we expect our children to share and act generously when they fear their toys might get taken away?  We all worry when resources are scarce, and that worry often drives us to hold tighter to what we have.
Do we expect our children to go to sleep right when their heads hit the pillow?  I take time to wind down with books, television, tea, or mindless games on my phone.
Do we expect our children to “use nice words” or “gentle hands” when they are angry, disappointed, hurt, or lonely?  When I’m mad, I need to vent – and my venting is often accompanied by powerful words or actions!
Do we expect children to shove down their tears (It’s okay, don’t cry, you’re okay…) because the reasons they are crying seem – to us – ridiculous?  I once cried and loudly pleaded with Costco membership-card-checker at the front door who would not let me in because I was 10 minutes early.  (He let me in.)
Here’s the big deal: We give ourselves the space to be cranky, grumpy, sleepy, ornery, or irritable.  We excuse our poor behavior and our short tempers as hunger or fatigue.  We justify our over-reactions in because we can see our circumstances clearly.  That’s because we know what it’s like to be in our skin!  Our expectations are in line with our emotional reality.
And that’s the way it should be!  I should be gentle with myself when I’m cranky because of hunger.  I should designate a window for snoozing if that is what I need to wake up in the morning.
But let’s extend this gift of self-awareness and affirmation to our children!  Let’s give our children the same gift that we give to ourselves.  Let’s give them space to be human beings with a complex emotional landscape.
Let’s help them find the space to wake up slowly (and grumpily!).
Let’s help children find room to be alone or play with different combinations of children.
Let’s give them the opportunity to be tired of their peers without demanding that “everyone is friends here” all the time.
Let’s help them find ways to protect their toys or their work so they know their pursuits are valid. 


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