For this, the first of a series of posts on the literate child, we would like to share with you a diagram that the Unit uses in our trainings to illustrate the development of a confident reader.
Like all houses, the foundations have to be strong to support the rest of the building. The development of language lays the foundation for reading. Talking and listening skills must come first. When a child can communicate effectively, that is they can listen to others and engage in conversation about what they are doing, they are practicing important skills that are needed as they learn to read and write. If your child is constantly chatting to you, sharing their ideas and observations, they are practicing these skills.
When you engage in conversation with your child they develop a bank of words, a vocabulary, to enable them to respond to you, their peers and the other adults in their lives. They learn the rules of engagement of conversation, how to respect the other person in the conversation by listening to what they have to say and when to take their turn to speak. This is a skill for life and is established in the early years.
The development of language links with the next level of our house, exploration and experiences. Young children need to be exposed to books, books that they can choose to enjoy when they want to, for as long as they want to. Reading to your child from an early age and discussing the story and illustrations begins children on the pathway to understanding that print and pictures have meaning. Reading to your child promotes a healthy relationship as you sit together and enjoy the story, discussing the characters and predicting what might come next. Children love to turn the pages, taking a peek at how the story develops.
As they grow older, they will have favourite stroies that they want read over and over until they can rote read the story with you. You will tire of the story long before your child does! It's important that your child is exposed to lots of stories as well as developing favourites. This is when your child will develop a love of reading and this will provide one of the most important factors of children learning to read, motivation.
When a child enjoys books, they will want to know what the words mean, want to be able to read the book for themselves. This begins with their rote reading of the story with you and, as the child becomes more familiar with a range of books, you will notice them making up the story using the illustrations as a guide. This is very important as it aids with their comprehension. They may read to their teddy or to their friends or to you. Your encouragement at this time will ensure that your child wants to read to you and is motivated in their attempts.
We will continue this entry soon and share with you more information and suggestions on how you can support your child to become a confident reader by looking at the rest of our house and the stage at which these levels develop. If you have any questions or comments to make regarding this entry, please do so in the comments section.