Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What does it mean when I hear educators talking about LITERACY?

Literacy is a complex concept and there are some key misunderstandings about what, exactly, literacy is.

LITERACY = Reading, Writing, Listening & Speaking

Building student literacy is a complex process that starts with children’s language and literacy experiences from their earliest months and continues throughout their early years as the effects of knowledge acquisition and skill development build.  Our goal is to provide parents with resources and tools that will assist them in helping their child excel on this journey.  Over the coming months we'll be sharing links and resources on this blog.  We believe parents play a critical role in their child's educational success.  We encourage you to bookmark this blog and visit often.

It's about more than just reading the words!
For many, the confusion about literacy arises when we're talking about the skills and knowledge surrounding literacy.

The SKILLS are essentially the foundation, while the KNOWLEDGE is the application of that SKILL.

For example, a literacy skill would be recognizing words, spelling, or knowing the alphabet.  Where literacy KNOWLEDGE is understanding a concept, expressing complex ideas or vocabulary.  When you combine SKILLS and KNOWLEDGE you are talking about a complete set of competencies that make up the developmental process and the whole when talking about LITERACY.

While skills-based competencies are usually master early, knowledge-based competencies must be supported during the entire educational experience.  For many children knowledge‐based competencies  are more likely to be key sources of academic difficulties.  In a knowledge-based, global economy, knowing how to read well  and then apply what you've learned is more important than ever.

Literacy is  JOURNEY not a DESTINATION
Children need environments that support reading skills, background knowledge and active discovery. Neither skills (such as alphabet knowledge, word reading and print awareness), nor knowledge (such as understanding concepts, oral language development and vocabulary growth) are enough by themselves.

Connected, engaged parents are crucial to children’s success. Even parents without strong reading skills can make important contributions to their children’s cognitive development and later reading success through conversation and joint engagement in learning via traditional and digital media.  None of the information posted here is to be considered a substitute for instruction.  Links and resources are strictly offered as resources and supplemental information.

Got a newspaper? You’ve got learning!

Most families have access to a newspaper. Either one arrives on your doorstep or a local community paper is available for free at the coffee shop or grocery store. Even just a few pages from the newspaper can be turned into lots of early learning activities. Grab your young child and a pair of scissors, and let’s get learning with a newspaper!


Letters and Words
Have your child cut out the letters needed to spell his first and last name. Have him glue these onto a piece of paper.

Ask your child to find capital and lower case pairs of letters. Glue the pairs onto a piece of paper.
Ask your child to find and cut out all the words in headlines that she can read. Paste them on a piece of paper and practice reading them together.

Cut out a few pictures from the paper. Ask your child to write a caption for each one. Compare their caption with the paper’s caption. Talk about ways captions help readers understand one small piece of the story.

Turn a recent family event into a newspaper story. Try to write a headline, the story, include a picture or drawing, and add a caption.

Ask your child to circle all the ads they can find in the paper. Discuss what makes a good advertisement and what does not. Discover what types of words and punctuation are often used in ads, and how those are tools writers use to capture a reader’s attention. See if your child can create an ad for their favorite game or TV show.

Understanding the News 
Help your child understand the structure of the newspaper. Browse through the different sections of the newspaper. Sort news stories into international, national, and local. Point out other sections such as sports, food and entertainment.

Talk about the difference between fact and opinion. Then, read one of the articles from the newspaper. Are there facts in the story? Are there any opinions? How can we tell the difference? What sorts of words are used for each? Within which section are opinion stories usually found?

Choose an interesting and age-appropriate story from the newspaper. Read the story with your child. After reading, ask your child if she can answer the “who, what, where, when, and why” questions about the story.

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Understanding Children Who Are Dual Language Learners (DLLs)

One third of the children enrolled in Early Head Start and Head Start are Dual Language Learners (DLLs). They are a diverse group who have different languages, experiences, strengths, and gifts. Recent research points out the

Similarities among ALL young children – those who are leaning one or several languages (e.g., children are born with natural capabilities for language and for learning);

Differences between children growing up with one language (monolinguals) and children who are DLLs (e.g., children may learn some ideas such as counting, in one of their languages but not the other); and

Diversity among children who are DLLs (e.g., individual differences of temperament, interests, etc.).

EHS/HS programs can best support the school readiness for Dual Language Learners when they understand each child’s unique characteristics and needs.

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