6 Ways to Support Early Literacy in a Natural Way
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Supporting Early Literacy is the most effective when it happens through hands-on experiential learning and it brings fun! The entire focus then is not on the learning outcome but on the process of being immersed in something meaningful. This is what always matters for a child.
While planning supporting literacy whether you are teacher or a parent, your chances of keeping kids busy and interested are much higher if:
– you make it all about hands-on learning
– allow children to experience
– get children actively engaged in creating and self-expression
Things become more attractive, more relevant, children centred this way. Smuggling letters here and there will not be harmful then – it will help raise awareness and interest naturally.
Here’s top six tips that will help you support early literacy on a daily basis through Experiential Learning:
1.Reading Corner and Book of the Day
Reading corners are one of the best way to support early literacy and raise children’s awareness of the written word. They promote independence, help children choose the best time and way to interact with books and because they are available all the time it is very easy for children to access them whenever they feel inspired.
- If you want to arrange a book or reading corner for your kids, it has to be functional and super exciting.
- Find some space in your child’s room or anywhere in the house where you can create a special reading corner. The area should be carpeted which will make it possible for your child to read and play on the floor.
- You may also want to add some bean bags, a small table and some chairs or a sofa.
- Make sure the reading space is your child’s private area.
- Provide colourful plastic or cardboard boxes where your child will keep their books and place them on the floor.
- You may add a bookshelf but it is absolutely essential that all the books are accessible to your child at all times and are kept on their eye level.
2. Multi-Sensory Books
You should definitely give Multi-sensory Books a try as they caught children’s attention immediately and provide fun for hours. They appeal to children’s senses in a variety of ways:
- some parts of the illustrations are textured with fabric which can be rough, smooth, silky, bubbly, etc.
- there are buttons that trigger funny sound effects, narration or dialogues when pressed
- some pages have parts to open, unfold or pull, and they reveal hidden or extra content which will appeal to your kid’s curiosit
- some pictures or pages are scented so that your child can smell for example an ugly troll or a beautiful flower
- some books have plastic elements to manipulate or work with, such as cogs, strings, lids, etc.
3. App Books and Apps
These are ebooks for children where upon touching your child’s favourite characters will get animated, produce sounds, start speaking and even respond to your child’s voice!
App Books are truly interactive and engage children in meaningful literary contexts. They often are fully personalised and may be used in a “Read to me” or “I can Read Myself” mode, and you can adjust the level of background music, sound effects and narration. Some books have built-in mini games or follow-up activities. This will help your children understand the story or the content better, as well as improve their reading and writing skills.
You can even subscribe to online libraries and have a nice new app book waiting for your kid every week!
One of the best App Books are Amelia and the Terror of the Night by OhNoo Studio and Learn with Homer, but also app books by Appy Kids are worth your attention. There are also some good apps that will introduce your children to letters and sounds and are fun to play. It is still not easy though to find really high quality apps designed with children in mind. Among the best ones that are child-friendly and effectively support literacy is a series of Endless Alphabet and Endless Reader apps. These two actually helped our home educated son Julius learn to read and write on his own without any additional structured reading/writing sessions.
4. Make your own App Books
This is a totally new approach to reading which offers all children a unique opportunity not only to read great books, but also to become a book author themselves. With the app such as Book Creator, iAuthor or Tappy Tap your children can now make their own digital and interactive app books! All they need to do is to take some photos, draw a picture or two, add some text or record their own voice, animate some parts if they wish to and their book is ready to be published. Children are fabulous story tellers by nature and they always have great ideas to share. Creating and publishing their own books makes them feel really proud and self-confident about their literacy skills and their creativity. At the same time, if they can see or read what other children created they feel more motivated to read and write new stories!
5. Word Hunt
One of the most effective ways to naturally support literacy is helping your child notice words around them. All children sooner or later realise that letters and then words form a useful coding system.
TIP: Draw your child’s attention to various funnily shaped letters that you see around every day (e.g. in shop windows, on food products or toys, etc.) and simply read them out loud. You may do the same while reading stories to your child.
Let them pick the most funny looking, the biggest, the smallest or the weirdest letters or words they can find on the pages of their favourite books. Turn it into an exciting letter/word hunt and make it a regular activity.
6. Libraries, Book Fairs, Story Times
Visiting libraries can also be a very exciting adventure as there will always be plenty of new books to choose from. Modern libraries are becoming child-friendly places where children can feel free to explore the world of books the way they personally like best. There will usually be a comfortable carpeted reading area with soft beanbags, funny cushions, great book displays and play spaces. Children can socialise and play with other kids, take part it educational workshops or story time sessions there too.
If you have a chance to attend a children’s book fair or a reading-themed event, give it a try by all means. You’ll be able to meet children’s books authors, get free books, book samples or educational resources supporting children’s literacy. There might be some interactive workshops for children to enjoy too!
WHAT TO DO NEXT
Now it’s time to take your children for an amazing adventure where books become their best friends and help them not only understand the world better, but also express themselves even more creatively.