Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What is language? What is language to a young child?

                There are several different ways people think about language. The concept of language has many aspects within it. An important role of language is that it allows people to communicate. This is a very important skill in society. Being able to communicate is also a very important concept for young children. Young children are learning how to use their words to express their needs, wants, and ideas. Language can help children express their individuality, from their interests to their culture. Language provides different meanings of items and ideas in the world around us. Language helps us express our thoughts and feelings. Children use language in this way. They tell you when their sad, they express their dislikes, and they explain their creations. Throughout a child’s life they are learning about language from many things within their environment. They are trying to understand their environment and the people within it. Children try several ways to communicate and use language. Children may write down their thoughts, point to words, or drawl their stories. As children grow they develop more language skills you can see their ideas expressed often. When observing a child’s literacy development you can see how “during the preschool years, the child’s oral language development continues becoming more complete, complex, refined, and varied” (pg. 13). It is important to encourage children to express their creativity with their words. You could encourage them to write an interesting story down in their journal. You want to create an environment that allows children to feel free to express themselves. Children often write more when they are not afraid to make mistakes. The more options a child has the more creative they can become. This creativity will encourage them to write more. Therefore when children are writing more often, they are also working on their literacy skills more often.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Print Awareness

            Children start learning about literacy from very early on in their lives. They learn from all different kinds of print: such as newspapers, cards, magazines, books, calendars, and much more. Children develop a sense of print awareness at very young ages. They see writing everywhere and understand that these lines and shapes on paper must be important. Children watch adults and they see how important print is in their lives. They see families reading and writing and notice print on different things in their environment. Children see words on their favorite cereal box and on the family computer. This inspires an interest in young children to explore and learn more about literacy. Children come to realize that these shapes and forms have meanings to them. Children will start to see that “letters can be named” (pg. 28). It is a very big step for a child to realize that letters can help people communicate. This causes children desire to know what the print around them is saying. They want to take these shapes and forms and give them meaning. Children learn examples, such as understanding that a stop sign says stop. Children will explore how alphabetic symbols are organized. Children will make guesses about patterns of words based off of examples they have been exposed to. Children play with ideas of size and length of words or letters to better understand print. Children may notice mom and dad read left to right and top to bottom; these observations will inspire knowledge and lead the child in the right direction. Exposing children to different types of print and encouraging their curiosity is important when children are developing literacy skills. Being able to observe what the child knows instead of only seeing what the child does not understand is a helpful tool in guiding a child in the right path. Remember that children are making guesses about the world around them and it is important to respond to their guesses in a positive way. You never want to discourage a child from trying to learn or making a new hypothesis. It is important to see the world around you from the eyes of a child.            

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Literacy Journey: Home and School!

When looking at a specific example of a child’s literacy journey you can find out so much about how that individual child learns. You can see how the school and home environments influence each other when it comes to the idea of literacy learning. Making a learning bridge or “the third space” that connects what the child is learning at home to the lessons at school is the teacher’s job. This job is very important because children need to be set up to succeed in school. Without this connecting bridge of information children may feel lost and be unwilling to try to learn new things. When teachers connect the information that children already know from home to their school lessons, it gives children the opportunity to add more information into their schemas, therefore learning. Children already have so much information about literacy that they have learned from home. So it is important for teachers to communicate with parents to find out what kind of literacy skills their child has and what kinds of literacy activities take place at home. Literacy activities can be anything from writing a birthday card to reading a magazine together. Understanding a child’s background and life at home will allow the teacher to make connections within their lesson plans. These connections will help children build knowledge off of previous information already learned. Upon obtaining information about an individual child teachers will find out interesting facts about that child and then will be able to use this information to better their classroom and activities. It is important for teachers to know what language(s) the child speaks at home. If a child speaks a different language than the children in your class it is important to bring their language into the classroom. Teachers have to use different teaching methods to make sure they are reaching every student in their classroom. Creating this type of connection or “the third space” will enrich children’s learning experiences.    

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Remembering Critical Lessons in Early Literacy Research: A Transactional Perspective

       Being an early childhood education student, the subject of literacy is one that I hear about often. Literacy is discussed within my early childhood classes, at my work, and within several different textbooks and readings. In my most current readings assignment, “Remembering Critical Lessons in Early Literacy Research: A Transactional Perspective” the idea of literacy and culture being connected became quite clear. Our culture is one way we identify ourselves as individuals. Our culture also effects how we read and view a book. One section within this reading explained how cultural tools, such as television, play a role in a child’s literacy development. What a child sees on a television show or in a movie adds new information into their schemas. This information then plays a role in the books that they read. Popular culture can be a tool used within a child’s literacy development. This reading digs deeper into that thought by explaining that “children use tools such as popular culture and narrative to situate themselves socially and textually and to mediate their environments” (Whitmore, Martens, Goodman & Owocki). Children use popular culture to create ideas about important topics such as age, gender, race, class, and stereotypes. They may compare these ideas to the books that they read. Children may challenge ideas they have seen in popular culture by comparing them to their environment. Children may embrace certain popular culture to create mental images for their readings. Children take in information all around them to try and understand this world. Popular culture is one source children use to define their world. Reading books is another wonderful source children use to define their world and their own identity. By comparing these two different things children use educational thinking skills. Seeing how popular culture effects the way children think makes it is easy to see how popular culture can also effects literacy developmentThis concept is important to remember as a future educator. Therefore remembering the concept of how popular culture can be used as a tool will be important when working with children and their literacy skills.