Notes from Sue, Education Director
The other day I had the opportunity to sit in on a parent conference with a dad who was asking some very good questions about his child’s early literacy skills and how we support them here at Peninsula. This dad was asking an important question because research shows that early literacy skills are a predictor of later school success.
Here at Peninsula early language and literacy skills are something we take seriously and include in our curriculum, beginning at birth, which is where literacy starts. However, because it is woven into your child’s daily activities in the child-centered, play-based way research shows best supports early learning, it may not always be obvious to parents what we are doing.
There are 8 basic language and literacy objectives we focus on for every child:
· Listening to and understanding increasingly complex language
· Using language to express thoughts and needs
· Using appropriate conversational and other communication skills
· Demonstrating phonological awareness (the ability to discern the sounds and patterns of spoken language)
· Demonstrating knowledge of print and its uses
· Comprehending and responding to books and other texts
· Demonstrating knowledge of the alphabet
· Demonstrating emergent writing skills
Each of these objectives has a number of smaller parts as well as a developmental progression children go through as they grow and develop over time. As an example, phonological awareness includes:
· Noticing and discriminating rhyme : “one, two, buckle my shoe”
· Noticing and discriminating alliteration “bringing home a baby bumble bee”
· Noticing and discriminating smaller and smaller units of sound
We are intentional in teaching these skills as teachers sing songs, play games, and read books to children involving these kinds of sounds. Eventually, children start repeating the words in these songs and games themselves at ages one and two, filling in missing rhyming words and playing with rhyming words at two or three, starting to become aware of and able to match beginning sounds at four or five, and then being able to answer “what rhymes with cat?” or “what’s the beginning sound of baby, ball, bat?” at age 5. A similar process exists and is included in our curriculum for all the literacy objectives above.
As part of our commitment to literacy, we are pleased to introduce Chris Ablutz, our new Multnomah County Library volunteer, who will be on-site Wednesday morning to read stories to the Junior and Preschool children. Chris is a retired kindergarten teacher certified in special education with a Masters degree in Reading and Literacy, so she has lots to offer both children and teachers. Chris will spend approximately 20 minutes in each classroom once a month.
It is important to remember that the stages of literacy build on one another and that each child accomplishes each stage at their own pace, much like they learn to walk. At home, talking with and reading aloud to your child are some of the best ways to promote literacy. Every classroom at Peninsula participates in Multnomah County Library's Raising A Reader program - be sure to talk to your child's teacher about this great way to get new books at the Center to read with your child at home!