Early Literacy by Story Robey
Written by Story Robey, DHS student
Dyersburg City Schools has launched a project which promotes early literacy in its students. There is a multitude of benefits in such a program: intellectual, social and familial.
According to Jaime Chamberlin of the American Psychology Association, the APA conducted research on early literacy, reporting that it is “as important as regular teeth-brushing for ages 4 and 5”.
An early introduction to and facilitation of early reading can set a precedent for a child’s later education. Reading is a foundation for learning: the earlier a child learns to read and comprehend, the sooner they are able to move on to the next levels of learning. Early literacy constitutes early cognitive thinking and comprehension in reading.
Students who do not have to worry about simple reading and comprehension skills are able to focus their intellect on other subjects: mathematics, science and social studies. These courses require at least basic reading skills and further build on a child’s skills.
Children who are unable to read well in kindergarten are stinted in their learning because they are forced to play catch up while their peers are advancing in their educations. Even young students who are not yet interested in their academics are interested in keeping up with their peers. Promoting early literacy in all students will create a sort of domino effect: children who are reading well will encourage their peers to do well also, whether they recognize that they are doing so or not.
Beyond the classroom, families can be impacted by an early literacy project. Reading at home to children can create a closer bond between parents, siblings, grandparents and other relatives. Reading out loud creates one-on-one interactions that foster closer relationships and even stronger reading skills. If a child hears proper word pronunciation and punctuation while being read to, they are likely to carry those skills over into their own reading.
The APA suggests that parents and teachers prompt children with open-ended questions regarding their experiences throughout the day. Doing so will “increase children's exposure to language and build verbal expression skills.” In addition to this, closer bonds can be formed by such interactions.
Since early literacy is now a major priority for the Dyersburg City School System, improvement in learning can be expected on all levels.
Tip to include reading in every day living:
The best way to incorporate reading into your busy family schedule is to make it part of your daily routine! On the bus, before bedtime: everyday moments offer opportunities to share books with your child. Just a few suggestions for daily reading with children are to read news articles, food labels on cans, have children pick out items at the grocery store, look for letters on street signs.
Children benefit most from reading aloud when they are actively engaged. Your child loves the feeling of being close to you, so cuddle up as you begin the story. Along the way, ask open-ended questions and encourage your child to describe the pictures he sees. After reading a new word, explain to him what the word means in a clear and simple way. You can also let him hold the book and help turn the pages. And remember, it’s okay to read the same book over and over again if that’s what your child wants! Repetition helps children learn new concepts and become familiar with words.