Dr. Edward Zigler, one of the founders of Head Start, said that there is a tremendous amount of variation among children’s language skills. He felt there was positive benefit for literacy in the manner in which parents talk and read to their children, and this has enormous impact in how they develop language. He believed specifically, the social-emotional and motivational factors that often lay the groundwork for the development of literacy skills is the environment in which children evolve. This is particularly important for social interactions.
Infants: Labeling Objects – Drs. Goldstein & Schwade stated that caregivers can help infant acquire language skills by labeling objects. Infants learn better when adults wait for their eyes to be naturally gazing at the object telling them, “That’s your stroller,” “See the flower?” or “Look at the doggie.” This technique is especially powerful when the infant both gazes and vocalize, or gazes and points. Basically, the adults are just following the child’s lead so when done correctly, the infant’s brain associates the sound with the object.
Toddlers: Syllable Clapping - Clapping or tapping out the syllables of their names heighten attention to the sounds of speech for young children. Tapping out the words with their feet for a familiar nursery rhyme will not only help toddlers better remember it but it will also help them to vocalize the words. These clapping and tapping activities heighten their attention to the sounds of speech, and when done as a group activity develops their social interactions.
Preschool: Scribble Writing – Scribbling often represents children’s first efforts to communicate through writing. They frequently talk while scribbling, demonstrating their understanding that symbols written on paper have meaning. Have the children draw a picture about the recent field trip, encourage them to scribble write the story of what happened on the trip. The children then dictate what each picture was about as the teacher writes it down on an experience chart. Mount the experience chart on a bulletin board and put the picture up beside it with string from each line to each picture.
Susan Neuman, Carol Copple, and Sue Bredekamp in their book Learning To Read And Write stated, “In learning to read and write, the role of children’s language skills and word knowledge cannot be overestimated. Although children are ‘hard-wired’ to acquire language, they require environments in which they experience language used in meaningful contexts. The variety of language that children experience, as well as the quantity, matters. And the ways people use language, at home and in early childhood settings, also shape what each child brings to literacy learning.”
There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; There are only children who have not found the right book. (Frank Serafini)