My early literacy activities are focused on the six ready to read skills developed by the American Library Association, though every skill is not emphasized every day. Each week we focus on one different theme, and bring in books that are associated with that topic. Even when the theme is shapes or numbers, the connection with early literacy is maintained through the usage of books and other skills.
There are six skills that we foster in different ways, in storytimes, in activities, and in our ready-to-read center, which is full of activities that help children develop these skills in play:
- Vocabulary: Exposing children to new words, synonyms, and a variety of experiences prepares them to be readers, and also makes them ready for school.
- Print Awareness: Helping children understand the connection between words and the actual real item, can also be seen in connecting the numeral with the quantitative amount.
- Narrative Skills: Encourages children to interact with text, tell the story, guess what will happen next, helps them to understand how a story works and how the world works. Cause and effect
- Print Motivation: Sharing the love of reading, putting fun in the fundamentals of learning, and illustrating how enjoyable reading and learning can be.
- Phonological Awareness: Exposes children to the way words work, and the sounds they make, through rhyme, rhythm, and song.
- Letter Knowledge: Knowing ABCs, and how they relate to sounds and each other–what order do they come in?
Every week following storytime, we hold an activity to foster these skills, along with displays of books which parents and caregivers are encouraged to take home to continue the fun and learning. These activities are for learning, but more then that they are for FUN, and children are allowed to come and go as their attention span fluctuates. Some children would rather play on the computer or color independently–and why not! For some activities, parents and caregivers can take materials home with them to complete when the children have more energy or more attention.
Much of my efforts go in educating parents and caregivers who may not be aware that their child is old enough to be developing these skills, or they may not be aware of the benefit in some of the activities they are already doing. Parents and caregivers frequently tell me that their child is not old enough for books, crayons, counting, practicing their letters, or working on the craft. The message I have to share is that children can work on developing these skills at their own pace, but are never too young to start getting ready to read!