One of the most important gifts we can give our children is a love of learning. Developing language and literacy skills is one way to instill this love of learning. This starts in infancy, and hopefully will continue throughout their entire lives. When we talk, touch and sing to our infants, toddlers and preschoolers, they react like little sponges, soaking up all of the words, sounds, actions and feelings we are portraying. It is never too early to start our children down the path to success in school and life.
The following information comes from ‘The Road to Reading and Writing: A mile by mile guide for your developing child.’ (1999, Farrell, Madden, Phillips, Wallgren). The authors researched children birth to five regarding brain development, language development, the home and school environment, and the impact these factors have on literacy development. The following are suggestions for things you can do at each stage of a child’s development.
Birth to 12 Months
Play lots of different kinds of music; sing songs; make up songs about daily activities and tasks; plan for quiet moments in the day; talk and listen to your baby; play pat-a-cake and peek-a-boo; describe everyday actions; identify and name objects; say nursery rhymes; read to your baby!
One to Two Year Olds
Play with play dough and finger paint; use simple puzzles and blocks; talk to your child about everything you are doing; expand upon what your child says: ball – red ball; listen to sounds, words, rhymes and poems with your child; listen to different kinds of music; do finger plays and sing songs; encourage the use of new words; play simple games; use directional words when playing and building; demonstrate actions that go with word (clap); take your child to places in the community and talk about what you saw or did; read to your toddler!
Two to Three Year Olds
Gently correct speech errors; take your child to places like the grocery store, library, park and talk about what you see; talk about colors, textures, sizes, shapes of food or other things; use puppets and dress-up clothes for pretend play; talk with your child about everyday activities; encourage your child to express their feelings; ask your child questions; answer your child’s questions; listen to your child; have your child help sort laundry; give your child simple directions to follow; read to your preschooler!
Three to Four Year Olds
Play guessing games; play Simon Says games; go on a scavenger or treasure hunt; make your own book using baggies and photos; create a Literacy Box – paper, pencils, pens, crayons, makers, old magazines, glue, child-size scissors etc.; make a Feelie Bag – put different items in bag, child puts hand in bag and guesses what the item is; talk to your child; encourage them to tell/retell stories; start a story and have your child finish it; make up silly songs; share cooking experiences; ask your child to draw a picture and tell about it; go places and talk about what you see; go on a listening walk; read to your preschooler!
Four to Five Year Olds
Take the time to listen to your child every day; ask them to follow 2-3 step directions; help distinguish between beginning, middle and end of story; listen to taped stories; sing and make up songs together; write, draw or paint on big and small surfaces; draw with chalk outdoors; use lacing cards and simple stencils to trace around; string beads together; take your child places and talk about what you see; give your child opportunities to spend time with other children; point out words and letters you see on signs, in magazines, on TV etc.; introduce your child to the calendar by pointing out and circling special days; read to your child!
The Early Learning Success curriculum has 15 Units of Study that are based on specific books. Each book Unit uses ‘repetitive reading’ strategies to foster literacy skills. Here is the list:
- Alphabet Under Construction by Denise Fleming
- Click, Clack, Moo Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin
- Elmer the Patchwork Elephant by David McKee
- Fire Fighter Frank by Monica Wellington
- Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
- I Like Me by Nancy Carlson
- If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
- Marshmallow Kisses by Linda Crotta Brennan
- Olivia Forms A Band by Ian Falconer
- Planting a Rainbow by Lois Elhert
- Sneezy the Snowman by Maureen Wright
- Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
- Stone Soup by Ann McGovern
- The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Audrey and Don Wood
- Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Check out all the Units with the Current Catalogue