Assisting Early Literacy

Dalby Christian
Marie Skerman
What is Literacy ?
• Being able to communicate your
thoughts effectively through :• Writing
• Speaking
• Reading
Brain Development
• Recent brain research has revealed that
the early years of life are more critical to a
child’s development than we ever realized.
• Children’s brains begin to
develop from the moment
they are born.
New Born – 2 Months
The baby begins to vocalize
Up to 10 months
Babies under 10 months usually babble in the
phonemes of their own language. Repetition of
sounds begins to strengthen connections for these
sounds in the brain.
6 to 18 months
At 18 months many children begin adding words or vocab at
a rate of one new word every two hours or so.
At this stage the brain development and metabolic activity
and neural connections are higher than at any other time in
The crucial connections that determine how clever, creative
and imaginative a child will be are already laid down by the
time the child turns one. Mem Fox
24 months – 36 months
Simple phrases are formed with around 200-300 words
in vocab.
Phrases are usually word sequences they have heard.
Children’s neural pathways for language develop rapidly.
Literacy Development
The first 3 years of life are a cognitively
critical time for developing children’s
language capacity, vocab and writing
Literacy Development
The environmental aspects of
children’s lives, their
experiences and the
opportunities they are given all
play an important role in
building their brains with a
strong foundation for later
literacy success.
• Being able to communicate your
thoughts effectively through :• Writing
• Speaking
• Reading
• Speech Development
• Language Development
Speech Development
• Producing the sounds that form words
• Physical activity that is controlled by
the brain
• Requires coordinated movement of
tongue, lips, jaw, palate, lungs and
voice box.
• It takes a lot of practice and that is
what children are doing in the first 12
• Some sounds do take longer than
Language Development
• The words that your child
understands and uses as well as
how to use them
• Includes spoken and written
• Vocabulary
• Grammar
• Discourse
Ability to structure sentences into
Rules for telling stories, poems and
jokes, writing recipes and letters
Speech and Language
• Learning to speak is probably one of
the greatest accomplishments of an
individual’s life.
• Parents and families have a
profound influence upon
children, not only vocabulary
but also on the literary
experience they provide.
Language Development
Oral language is so important it can
predict at age 3 if a child will have
problems with reading.
(Building the Reading Brain)
Language Development
• Your child’s ability to communicate
and express and understand
• Supports thinking and problem
solving and developing and
maintaining relationships.
• Learning to understand, use and
enjoy language is the critical first
step in literacy and it is the basis for
learning to read and write.
Encouraging Language Development
• Talk, talk, talk, talk. Talk frequently and
naturally- children do not learn how to
talk unless they are spoken to
• Talk to your baby and treat them as a
talker. In the first year assume they are
talking back to you when they make
sounds and babbles. Babble to each
• Respond to gestures and words. –
respond to their attempts to
communicate. E.g. pointing to a toy –
respond as if they are saying ‘Can I
have that’
Encouraging Language Development
• Talk about what is happening – use
lots of different words. As they
become toddlers continue to talk- tell
them things that are happening and
talk about things they are doing.
• Introduce new words – help them
learn the meaning and context of
• Share books
• Follow your child’s lead in
conversations. What topic did they
Encouraging Language Development
• Repeat and build on what a child
says e.g. If they say ‘apple’ you
could say ‘Do you want an apple? I
want an apple too. Let’s have a red
apple together.’
• Children can listen to more complex
language than they speak
• When they start telling stories get
them to talk about the past and the
future as well as the present.
• Rhymes and songs
Encouraging Language Development
The Nursery Rhyme Effect
When two sounds are similar they excite the
same cells and connections in the brain.
As these sounds are repeated the neural
connections become stronger and the
sounds become more easily recognizable
and familiar.
The brain also begins to distinguish between
sounds that are alike or different. This is
essential to phonemic awareness.
They also develop a bank of vocabulary.
Encouraging Language Development
Some researchers have found that early
knowledge of nursery rhymes is strongly and
specifically related to the development of more
abstract word processing skills and future
reading ability.
(Building the Reading Brain)
Dr Seuss
Reading problems are often difficult to fix but can
be easily prevented. Prevention comes long
before school. The first day of school is almost
too late. (Mem Fox)
Language Development
Just think if we took all of the words available to us
and read them in the dictionary to our children –
would that help with language development?
With the creativity and imagination
and letting the words flow
together in the right order there
is a pleasure and an awakening
of the senses and emotion.
What does reading with your child do?
• Gives an enjoyable time with them
– builds relationship
• Encourages familiarity with reading
• Helps them to start to appreciate
what books have to offer
• Helps them to understand that
print has meaning
• Develops a larger vocabulary and
helps them become familiar with
language patterns
What does reading with your child do?
• It stimulates memory and develops and
reinforces background knowledge
• Improves thinking and problem solving skills
• Books and experience go together
Encourage a love of reading.
• Show children that reading helps
get information, answer questions
and discover interesting things
• Don’t make it a chore to share a
book. Don’t be surprised if they
want to read the same one over and
• Visit the library
• Participate in library story times and
reading clubs
• Own library card
Encourage a love of reading
• Collect different types of books
(great present)
• Repetitive chorus – encourage
them to join in
• Speak the words of characters
with expression
• Make time available to look
through books
Choosing Books for Babies (0 - 18 months)
• pictures of familiar objects, and with
a strong rhythm and rich language
• select books with simple, large
illustrations. High contrast black and
white graphics work well, as do solid
• Board books and cloth books choose sturdy books that a baby can
handle safely.
• Nursery Rhyme books - select books
with rhymes and poems that have
strong rhythm and rich language
Choosing Books for Toddlers (19 months - 3 yrs)
• Toddlers like predictability and
• Any of the books recommended
for babies.
• Storybooks - select books about
what is familiar to your child, such
as your child's favourite things or
your family's culture.
• Alphabet and Counting Books.
Choosing Books for
Preschoolers (3 - 5 years old)
• Preschoolers like to be involved. Let them help
choose the books, or have them turn the pages
as they follow along as you read and share
• Pre-schoolers are ready for longer, more
complex stories.
• Rhyming and nonsense books, such as Dr.
Seuss books are popular
• Try audiobook sets - books with CD that read
the story while you and your child turn the
pages of the book.
• Online stories - electronic stories that have
interactive elements- can be a nice change.
• Some pre-schoolers are ready for beginning
Choosing Books
• The library is a big place with lots
of shelves, bindings, labels and
writing. Guide children.
• Become familiar with authors
• Some purposeful well chosen
books by you
• Some own choice by child
• Picture books enrich language
• Seek out reading lists
Ten read-aloud commandments
Mem Fox
1. At least 10 wildly happy minutes
2. 3 stories a day
3. Read aloud with animation
4. Read with joy and enjoyment
5. Read the stories kids love
6. Lots of language
7. Look for rhyme or repetition
8. Play games with things on the page
9. Do not get tense
10.Everyday, Mums and Dads
Talking about Books
Beginning Sounds
Print always stays the same
Connect to text – relate to own experience
Asking questions
Discuss new words
Don’t kill the moment!
Mechanics of Reading
• Holding a book
• Run you finger under words as you
• Show how you begin reading at
the top of the page
• Point out words that are repeated
– see if they can find them if used
• Pictures have meaning
Beyond Books
• Go places and do things. The more experiences
children have the easier it can be to read and
develop vocabulary. It is easier to read about
things if you have had the experiences
• Everyday reading- directions, grocery list, labels,
signs, computer
• Limit TV and IT
• Books on CD
Gross Motor Skills
Gross motor skills involve movement
of the large muscles in arms, legs,
and torso. Gross motor activities
include walking, running, skipping,
jumping, throwing, climbing and
many others. It may be easiest to
think of “gross motor” skills as skills
most utilized on a playground.
Gross Motors Skills
What is Bilateral Integration?
Bilateral integration is a fancy
term that refers to the ability
to smoothly perform actions
using both sides of the body
simultaneously. Successful
gross motor movements are a
result of bilateral integration.
Gross Motors Skills
There are several stages of bilateral integration
that develop in sequence:
Symmetrical Bilateral Integration.
Symmetrical bilateral integration
involves both sides of the body
working in mirror-image unison,
where the actions on one side of the
body mirror the actions performed on
the other side.
Symmetrical Bilateral Integration.
Reciprocal Bilateral Integration
Reciprocal bilateral integration involves
moving both sides of the body at the
same time in opposite motions.
Asymmetrical Bilateral Integration
Asymmetrical bilateral
integration involves each
side of the body acting in a
different way to complete a
single specific task. For
example, one foot may
kick a ball as the other foot
plants on the ground and
balances the body.
Asymmetrical Bilateral Integration
Crossing the Midline
• The “midline” is the
imaginary line down the
centre of your body from
the top of your head to your
toes). Crossing the midline
involves instinctively
reaching across your body
to complete an activity.
Crossing the Midline
Crossing the Midline
Successful reading depends on
an ability to cross the midline.
When reading, a child’s eyes
must follow along the entire
horizontal length of the page,
before moving to the next line.
Crossing the Midline
Without well developed bilateral
integration, a child will likely read the
first few words on a page and then
pause. After thinking for a moment, he
may continue to read the second half of
the page. This pause is because the
child was unable to instinctively cross
the midline so he needed to pause and
needed to deliberately move his eyes to
the next word to resume reading
Story Writing
Handwriting Stages
• Early Scribbling
– Random marks
– More interested in the physical
experience than the marks
• Controlled Scribbling
– Marks become more controlled – with
the development of motor skills
– Attempt to draw a straight line or circle
– Begin to distinguish between drawing
and writing
Handwriting Stages
• Pictorial Stage
– Marks and forms begin to be
– Understands that pictures and words
are different symbols
• Letter Stage
– Begin to write letters to represent
words and syllables
– Often can write own name
Fine Motor Development
• Coins or buttons – picking up coins or buttons (if
sure they will not put in their mouths
• Tweezers – picking up cotton wool balls with
tweezers is great for developing the opposition of
• Play dough – cutting with a knife is a great
strengthening task.
• Newspaper - encourage children to tear the paper
into strips with their thumb and index finger and to
then crumple the paper into balls
• Spray bottles - these are perfect for developing
muscle strength in the palm, wrist and fingers. Try
adding some drops of ‘food colouring’ for magic
• Hand–eye coordination
• Balance
• Spatial awareness
Crossing the Midline
Successful writing depends on well
developed asymmetrical bilateral
integration and an ability to cross the
midline. First, a child must use one hand
to control the pencil and the other hand
to position and stabilize the paper
(asymmetrical bilateral integration).
Then, a child must use one hand to write
words along the entire horizontal length
of the page, without switching the pencil
from the left hand to the right hand at the
mid-way point of the page (crossing the
Crossing the Midline
Without well developed asymmetrical
bilateral integration or an ability to
cross the midline, a child will limit
his drawing to the portion of the
paper closest to his writing hand
since he cannot comfortably reach
his hand to other areas of the
paper and his non-writing hand
does not instinctively readjust the
paper’s position.
Story Writing
Developing Good Writers
• Language and Vocab
• Exposure to great writing
(Reading lists)
• Collect things for children to
write on (junk mail, envelopes,
cheap shop)
• Have a variety of pens and
Development Accomplishment of Child from
Birth -3 (Taken from National Research Council’s publication‘Preventing Reading difficulties in Young Children’)
• Recognize a specific book cover
• Pretends to read books
• Understand books are handled
specific ways
• Book Sharing
• Labels objects in books
• Vocalization in play – enjoys
rhyming language and nonsense
Development Accomplishment of Child from
Birth -3 (Taken from National Research Council’s publication‘Preventing Reading difficulties in Young Children’)
• Comments on characters in books
• Looks at pictures in books and realizes it is a
symbol for a real object
• Listens to stories
• Requests/commands adults to read
• May begin attending to specific print such as
letters and names
• Uses increasing purposeful scribbling and
• Occasionally seems to distinguish between
drawing and writing
• Produces some letter-like forms and scribble
with some features of English writing.