WHAT YOU'LL LEARN:
a. 14 Ways to foster a love of books and reading
b. 18 Activities to explore sounds, letters, and words
c. 12 Naming and Storytelling activities
Literate individuals have the skills they need to develop their knowledge, meet their potential, and achieve their goals
Literacy skills, nurtured in homes, schools and communities, affect every aspect of daily life in a variety of ways. They'll help an individual navigate and participate in their community:
The Key to a Confident Future!
According to Dean Graziosi, best-selling success author, the realization of an individual's goals and dreams relies on their courage, commitment, confidence, and capabilities.
All four characteristics are inextricably linked. The courage to make mistakes comes from confidence. The willingness to learn from mistakes comes from commitment, and the ability to recognize and overcome mistakes comes from capabilities, which in turn boosts confidence.
All four characteristics are linked, and necessary for success. However, the first three listed above, confidence, courage and commitment, are not only boosted, but sustained, by the fourth one, capabilities. Confidence, unless it's misplaced, springs from, capabilities. Capabilities get the ball rolling, and help to maintain the necessary level of courage and commitment.
What capabilities create confidence, build courage and commitment, and above all make the realization of goals and dreams possible? Literacy skills, the ability to read, write, speak, and listen well, underlie the development of all other capabilities. How else would we discover what we need to know, learn from others to hone our skills, continue to progress over time? Literacy skills, more than anything else, provide a secure foundation to support success in all other endeavors.
More demanding literacy tasks require more sophisticated skills
Throughout a person's development, a continuous, consistent, expansion of skills and comprehension encompassing each area is desirable. It's expected that, over time, information received and communicated will continue to broaden in scope. Vocabularies increase. Reading and writing tasks become longer. Sentences become more complex. Concepts become more technical, interrelated and abstract. Interpretation of images extends from simple illustrations to charts, graphs and tables. Skills continue to advance until fluency is reached in all aspects of language learning, and functional literacy is attained and then surpassed.
Take a closer look at the core skills that underlie the key skills …
Depending on their age and level of development, learners will become familiar with:
- Upper and lower case letters in both script and print and on the keyboard
- All vowel and consonant sounds and blends
- Single and multiple letter combinations that form the spellings that stand for sounds in words
- Word forms, such as roots, affixes, prefixes and suffixes
- Correct use of types of words including verbs, nouns, adverbs, adjectives, prepositions, and conjunctions
- Sentence formation and structure including word order and punctuation in simple, compound and complex sentences
- Relevant vocabulary for the level of attainment and subject matter covered at school, work or play
- Compositions of all types, structures, and lengths, from fiction and nonfiction to reports and studies, and notes
Too often, we think of literacy skills in a one-dimensional way, and don't make the necessary connections between skills
It's time to embrace reality! Not only are the skills themselves complex, the way they develop, and overlap, is multifaceted!
So language learning needs to look like this…
It doesn't matter whether a learner is working on spelling, handwriting, vocabulary, composition, comprehension, grammar, enunciation or pronunciation.
They should be hearing, speaking, seeing, and writing in order for learning to take hold!
They should not just be gazing at a video, computer screen or lecturer. Nor should they just be punching letters on a keyboard or soundlessly filling in the blanks on a worksheet or in a workbook!
Let's look at this another way …
Good speaking skills are more likely to result from listening than speaking. For example, imagine a child saying the word 'apple' if they've never ever seen an apple or ever heard someone say the word. It's impossible to imagine!
That's because much necessary learning comes from participating in the passive skills such as listening, as well as active skills like speaking. In the same way, speaking skills rely on listening, writing skills rely on reading. Since we need to observe and experience what is correct before we can duplicate it, good use of vocabulary and grammar will rely on listening and reading as much as anything else.
By observing and mirroring good practices we gain more than is possible by simply practicing one of the skill areas. There is a good reason for this. If you think about it, practice that's full of errors just reinforces bad habits. If we can mirror good practices, and build habits around them, our path forward will be smooth and steady, rather than one step forward two steps back!
Passive and active learning go hand in hand
Of course, active learning must immediately follow passive learning! That's the only way learning will be remembered and perfected. The two go hand in hand. As much as possible, especially in the early years, each of the four quadrants should be considered to some degree at all times. If any one type of activity is neglected, skills will suffer.
What follows are 3 types of early literacy activities and 45 ways to encourage the growth of skills ...
A. 14 ways to foster a love of books and reading:
- As soon as possible, set aside special times to read daily.
- Choose books you both like.
- Encourage your learner to choose their own books at the local library, ask them what they like and why.
- Continue reading only when motivation remains high.
- Build awareness of how books work, where to start, reading from left to right.
- Get your learner involved in turning pages (make sure pages are easy to turn).
- Find opportunities throughout the day to read signs, labels on boxes and bottles, posters, pictures, cards, signs, and lists.
- While your learner listens, read to them, choral read (out loud together), listen while they read to you.
- Read picture books, story books and magazines, and encourage discussion. Ask your learner what they liked, what they didn't like and why.
- Enjoy riddles, jokes and cartoons, and encourage drawing and write captions.
- Read rhyming stories and choral read the rhyming words out loud.
- Vary your purpose: read for pleasure, for knowledge, to discover what happens next.
- Have your child tell a story in their own words. Write it down. Read it back to them.
- Read yourself to show you value reading.
B. 19 Activities to explore sounds, letters and words:
- Explore shapes and colours before exploring letters. Name them, describe them, play matching games, and ask your learner about them.
- Encourage drawing (with crayons, sticks in the sand, paint and playdough) and tracing shapes
- Help them write the first letter of their name, the rest of their name. Ask them to say the name of each letter and to read their name out loud.
- Explore certain letters by reading alphabet books that have pictures of things beginning with particular letters.
- Help your child cut out pictures from magazines that represent certain letters Make a collage, and write, or have your learner write, the letters beside the pictures.
- Point out letters, name them and discuss their shapes, their height, special features.
- Point out upper and lower case forms of letters (but focus on lower case), and have your learner talk about the differences.
- Read an alphabet poem that helps them learn letter shapes, and air draw the letters together.
- Link letters to sounds, by holding your finger under them as you read. ('s' says the snake!) Encourage your learner to say the words and make the sounds.
C. 12 Naming and Storytelling Activities:
- Encourage babbling cooing, and talking, by talking and listening (at dinner, at play, in the car, on a walk).
- Name things: people, objects, feelings, and events, and encourage naming.
- Point out rhyming words and encourage rhyming.
- Learn nursery rhymes, and all kinds of rhymes and songs, and say them together.
- Point to common words, then less common words, and listen while your learner says them.
- Write out new words and discuss them together.
- Use different words to explain the same thing and ask your learner to do the same.
- Use descriptive words. Describe things, and events and encourage your learner to do the same.
- Draw connections between things and ask your learner to do the same.
- Ask questions … (especially questions that need more than one word to answer) What does this make you think of? What colours do you see? How do you think it got here? Tell me more …
- Encourage questions as well! (When you're tired of questions, write them down for later)
- Talk about time, and the sequence of events. Tell them what will happen in the next hour, tomorrow, at a certain place … Make predictions. Ask, "What do you think will happen next?