Friday, September 3, 2010

Aspects of literacy in very young children

Photo credit: emilywjones

This is part two of a two part series on literacy in very young children. If you missed it, be sure to see part one here.

There are many aspects of reading that we, as adults, take for granted, but we should not overlook their importance in the learning of young children. Here are a few:

1. Repetition- Children learn by repetition (as do adults, of course). It may seem boring to you to read the same book over and over, but to a child it is comforting. They pick up something new from the book every time. I quite often will sit and read the same book to Doodlebug six or seven times *in a row* before she gets bored with it and goes to pick another book. Don't try to force them to move on. Read the same book repetitiously knowing you are encouraging your child to learn.

2. Rhyme and Rhythm- Children love rhyme and rhythm. We as adults appreciate (or at least recognize) more subtle patterns of words, but very young children need something a little more obvious. A young child can recognize that "cat" and "rat" sound alike, even if they cannot understand why. Books that sound like music are also fun. We often sing our books rather than "read" them.

3. Character- It is important to fully develop the characters in eve the most simplistic children's story. Give the characters voices. Make animal sounds. Talk animatedly. This draws very young children into the story (Oh! Mommy's excited! Maybe I should be too!), and helps to distinguish one picture from another as characters.

4. Illustrations- Give young children time to look at the pictures. For older children who are actively learning to read, it is okay for them to guess what the words say by looking at the pictures. This teaches children to use context clues, an important skill they will need later in life.

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