Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Talk! Talk! Talk!

One of the greatest things we can do as parents, educators and supporters of children's learning is to talk to our children. Talking teaches children:
  • about words (language/vocabulary)
  • about how words are put together to make phrases and sentences
  • about what words mean
  • about how words can be used to express needs, wants and desires
  • about how words can communicate feelings
  • about how words can communicate messages
When our babies are little we model language and repeat it to encourage them to say what we say (the parroting method). As children get older we often stop this or do it less often. A valuable technique with young children is to provide a running commentary as they or you do activities as it supports their language and vocabulary extension.

Young children have an innate curiosity hence the endless 'WHY?' questions. We need to foster this curiosity and provide some of the answers through discussion with the child and through providing them with rich experiences to give them things to talk about. Our children are worth listening to because their views are untarnished and quite wondrous.

Our histories were transferred via word of mouth for centuries before the written word was introduced to record any of it and despite modern ICT tools it is still the most humanised and personalised form of communication. When you talk to me I feel valued, acknowledged and when you listen to me I feel valued, acknowledged, respected and as though I belong in this place with people who care.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Reading pictures

Part of becoming literate is being able to interpret visual representations of information. These slides show how the children (4 year olds) were able to use pictures to help represent the results of their taste testing. They looked carefully at the pictograph and were able to answer questions using what they saw. For the children able to recognize names and beginning letters another aspect of their literacy was being able to answer questions related to particular children e.g. Did Jo like the Korma curry or not?

Building the children's oral language and vocabulary during the initial cooking experience, during the graph construction and when discussing and interpreting it was also part of the children's literacy development.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Literacy in action

We can support our tamariki in many ways. Here are some examples of how children are supported within our environment.

Capital letters

Capital letters should only be used for the start of your child's name. Tell them we use a capital letter for our names because names are important (They like to know they are important enough for a capital letter!) It is very confusing for children if you write their whole name in capitals because that is NOT how it is written in real life.

James not JAMES

Get your child into good habits early!


Nursery Rhymes and stories with rhyming words are a great way to introduce children to the idea of word families. Knowing about word families is helpful when children begin to write and read.

I use to love playing rhyming eye spy with my children on car trips.

e.g. I spy with my little eye something rhyming with flea...
Yes it is Tree.

We would also do a round robin where we all had to say a rhyming word when it was our turn. We would go until someone couldn't think of one or said one that didn't make sense. Young children are surprisingly good at this.

Children love feeling smarter by correcting adults and they love being tricked. I use this method with children on occasions to get sure responses!

e.g. Jack and Jill went up the ladder ("'s hill!" will come the screamed response...Trust without fail!)
To fetch a pail of ....lemonade
Jack fell down and broke his cr....nose (" No...silly. It's crown. He broke his crown!")

You get the idea I'm sure. It is fun. the children are developing a sense of humour through the nonsense aspect and they love trying to invent their own crazy versions of the rhymes to make you laugh (thus promoting their imagination and sense of fun/humour)

Listen to me!

One of the greatest things we can do for our children is to take time to listen to their stories. By listening we strengthen our relationships and knowledge of our children. We also send a message to our children that they are respected and their contributions are valued.

When we truly listen we have opportunities to question our children so that they begin to tell us about things in more detail. We can support their vocabulary acquisition by providing them with words if they get stuck with the word to use. We can support their growing understanding of the ways words are used and what words mean. We can also provide other ways of expressing the same ideas.

e.g. Child- Dog runned and bited ball.
Parent- Oh did the dog run and bite the ball?

Note how the parent repeats back what the child has told her modelling the correct way to use the words in past tense. By doing this she has sent a positive message back to the child that their story has been understood.

Parent- Was the dog being naughty?
Child- (Stares)
Parent- Was the dog a naughty, bad dog?
Child- Bad dog.
Parent- So he was a naughty dog. Bad boy! You are a naughty dog.

This example shows how we can help young children understand meanings of words and extend their range of words with similar meanings.

Talk to your children as often as you can and let them practice talking in a range of different settings. Children with a good oral vocabulary (who know and understand a range of words and know how to speak in different situations ) have an advantage when it comes to learning to read and write in formal settings.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Basic words

I started to prepare my children for school by making them familiar with some of the basic words they use in beginning reading. I made books with these words and I made words cards with doubles of each word. I started with only five words and as my children recognized the words I added a couple at a time. With the word cards we played snap and memory (and much later we played Fish (but only when they could recognize and say they word i.e. read it!).

A beginning basic list: I, am, my, and, the, up, is, go, to, on, can, said, went, in, me, here

Further basic words: look, no, was, will, of, yes, for, at, all, he, she, house, out, play, saw, you, with, it, see

I also included: mum, dad and family names

It is heaps of fun playing snap and memory. I started with just recognizing the words and I would say it when they matched. Eventually they began to recognize and say the words themselves.

Be aware that NOT EVERY CHILD is interested or ready to learn these. It MUST be kept fun and if your child isn't interested DON'T force them as this is the fastest way to turn them off learning and reading.