- Singing, clapping & sharing – not stressing - the secret to preschool reading success -From learning to write their names to reading independently, there’s huge variation in children’s literacy skills in the lead-up to starting ‘big school’, and plenty of parental anxiety about what’s normal, what’s not, and how to help get your child off to a great start. But before children can learn to read and write, they need to develop the building blocks for literacy – the ability to speak, listen, understand, watch, and draw. With literacy in the spotlight during Children’s Book Week, leading early learning provider Young Academics, which operates a network of 32 Sydney centres, asked its qualified early childhood teachers why it is important for children to develop pre-reading skills, and sought top tips and advice to help develop your child’s love of reading from an early age – especially in the era of increased screen time.
Why is it important for children to develop pre-reading skills – and from what age?
- Pre-reading skills can be developed from birth, beginning with simple songs, finger plays, cloth baby books, board books for toddlers and so on. Provide children with picture books to look at from the moment they can sit independently.
- Parents reading to their children is a wonderful way to connect and encourage a future love of books.
- Pre-reading is a vital step towards school readiness. It helps lay the foundation for what children will learn in school, like reading books from front to back, and reading words from left to right.
- Pre-reading skills don’t just assist children in recognising words and letters, they also promote confidence and help children learn to communicate their own thoughts and ideas.
Top tips to help children develop a love of reading
- Read aloud every day – even for 10 minutes – and be consistent. Make it fun and dramatic. Dress up, use puppets (hand socks will do!) change your tone for each character, ask your child to predict what happens next.
- Encourage your child to make up their own story using the drawings they bring home from their early learning centre.
- Choose lift-the-flap books, touch-and-feel books, or books with rhyming or repetition for younger children.
- Encourage your child to hold the book and turn the pages.
- Visit your local library regularly and encourage your child to choose books aligned to their personal interests - trains, animals, dinosaurs, gardening, sport etc.
- Read physical books – not books on electronic devices.
- Songs, nursery rhymes, and syllable clapping are powerful pre-reading tools that help children distinguish words, recognise patterns, build vocabulary, and improve memory –whilst having fun.
- Be as silly as you want with syllable clapping to encourage pre-schoolers to ‘sound out’ and play with words. Say words in funny voices, pretend to be different characters - get creative!
How does the programming at Young Academics help children develop literacy skills?“Our educators plan age-appropriate experiences and provide visually accessible learning environments to develop literacy in children. We use Art as a medium for drawing and painting which lays the foundations for mark making, writing and reading. Children love to retell stories by reading the pictures and using their intimate knowledge of the story to recount the sequence of event, these are all pre reading skills.,” explained Young Academics’ Director of Operations Jenni Gaffney. “In our play-based curriculum, we use books to stimulate most of our activities and we plan experiences that follow the children’s interests to encourage their engagement, and of course we read to them every day. It’s important to remember that though most children attending an early learning centre may not be able to formally ‘read’, they can create and follow the narrative of stories via dramatic play, pictures in the books, and being regularly exposed to a wide variety of stories.”
What should parents avoid doing when it comes to early childhood literacy?
- Don’t make a task tediously asking them to write their name repeatedly if they find it challenging. Let your child take the lead, find alternate ways to explore written letters, such as using a wet paint brush to write on the fence. Don’t pressure your child – there is no need to push young children to recite the alphabet or write – they will learn through play, communication and you reading aloud to them and telling stories together – there is no hurry.
- Try not to compare your child’s pre-reading progress with other children – every child learns in a different way, at a different rate.
- Demonstrate your joy in reading – if reading with your child seems like a chore, or something you don’t have time for, your child will pick up on the negative association.
- Remember your child will be formally taught to read and write once they start school, you are not expected to be able to teach them everything before they start school – an interest in books and stories is a fantastic start.
- Don’t use electronic devices to read stories.
- Don’t teach your child to write their name (or anything else) using all capital letters – they will just have to ‘unlearn’ the habit once they start school!
What red flags should parents be aware of – who should they contact if concerned?Educators will support children to respond to ques, engage in activities and remain focused through short group experiences. When children find this challenging, especially in the months prior to formal schooling, families may be advised to speak with a GP. “We advise our families to consult their child’s Early Childhood Teacher or Room Leader if they have any concerns, as well as the family GP to determine whether any investigations or assessments are necessary for services such as speech therapy, hearing assessments, psychology and so on,” added Jenni.
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About Young AcademicsEstablished as a family-owned business in 2009, Young Academics Early Learning Centre emphasises education, learning and individuality. Our vision is to provide Australian families with a service that approaches these attributes dynamically and holistically. Our name, Young Academics, is no coincidence. It reflects our belief that early learning is integral to children’s early years and sets the foundation for positive lifelong social, physical, and academic benefits. Our expert team has developed a curriculum and a set of programs that focus on individual understandings of identity, concepts, and ideas. Our goal is to ensure that learning and development remain synonymous, and that the quality of our education is of the highest calibre.
For further information please contact:Anne Wild & Associates – media representatives for Young Academics
Anna Caswell, Head of Travel & Lifestyle
Phone +61 2 9440 0414 or +61 402 336 082
Email [email protected]