Early Literacy (or, How to Nurture Your Young Shakespeare)
I attended a seminar from Toronto Early Literacy Specialists last week and thought I would share what I learned. A lot of it is common sense but I’ll pass it along anyway.
First of all, and we all know this, have many books in the home and read, read, read. Don’t just read to your child--set a good example and let your child see you reading (no problem for we literary mamas). Have some of their books on a low shelf they can reach so they can make their own selections.
Second, talk to your child a lot. No shit. Get down to their level, talk slowly, and let them see your face. Give your child lots of time to answer questions. We often only wait 2 seconds then answer for them. Give them around 10 seconds to reply.
They recommend the length of your sentences be just one more word than your child’s. For example, to my 13-month-old, I should speak one word at a time (slowly, at eye level).
I’ll take this advice with a grain of salt. I think it’s important to talk a lot, using full sentences that are grammatically correct. But I also try to teach individual words using this method. It’s worked for dog, cat, and duck.
Use your library! Visit often and browse the books. Talk to your children’s librarian. Get recommended reading lists from library web sites.
The age of 9 months – 18 months is critical for language development.
The age of 18 months – 2 is a period of explosion of language.
Take every opportunity to talk to your child. Talk about what you’re doing during meals, getting dressed, bath time, etc.
Use things like logos, street signs, and menus as opportunity for reading. They recommended a book called “City Signs”.
Tell stories. Make them up or tell them stories about yourself or family members when you were young. Recap the day, recent trips, and events. Tell simple folk tales. Use voices. Have them tell stories back to you. They recommended Sally Jaegar as a great source of info on storytelling.
Children often learn to write their name first, usually around age 3.
A good suggestion, I thought, was the use of a word box. Have your child make their own greeting cards. Have a box of words they use often (such as happy, birthday, mom, dad, their name). They can use the words to copy.
Give them lots of different writing tools.
When they’re working on art, refrain from direction! Don’t tell them the tail has to go here, they eyes should be there--let them be creative.
From around age 3, do junk art. Have them build sculptures with junk and masking tape. Take pictures of it so they’ll willingly dismantle their creations.
From around age 3.5, label things in the home. Stick to one room such as the kitchen. Put the labels at their eye-level. Leave them up for around 6 weeks, then move them around.
Make books. For example, use a food flyer. Cut out pictures and label them. Use family photos to make a book about family.
Subscribe to magazines like Owl and Chickadee.
Limit access to computers and TV, lest your child be in the sorry position of finding the real world boring in comparison to the virtual world. I agree with this. I want to research this topic and write about it someday.
On Foreign Languages
They recommend that for a child under 3, stick to one person for one language. So, if mama speaks French to babe, she should speak exclusively French. Papa should speak exclusively English. You could also possibly speak the second language at an exclusive location (mama speaks English at home and French at Grandma’s house).
For new immigrants, they recommend they speak their first language. They say it’s a common expense for parents to try to speak English at home to help the child; however, it is a broken English. So they child isn’t getting a strong example of any language.
I believe in teaching phonics. The speaker agreed, but said it can be taught through songs and rhymes. By age 3 they can pick out rhyming words. No need for boring, strictly-phonics instruction
That’s all. Let me know your thoughts, wise ladies! Any theories? Any strategies that have worked for you?
Labels: flotsam and jetsam