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Tikki Tikki Tembo retold by Arlene Mosel. Illustrated by Blair Lent. Wolf as told to John Scieszka. Illustrated by Lane Smith. Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. The Wheels on the Bus adapted and illustrated by Paul O. Illustrated by Diane Goode. Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. Talking to toddlers, sharing in making and using grocery lists, singing songs, telling stories—all of this helps children build literacy skills.

Another important influence is having a positive attitude about learning. Children whose families communicate that achievement is expected and appreciated tend to do better.

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For example, they can be on the lookout for potential difficulties and discuss some of their valuable observations with teachers. Starting at age three or four, parents can observe whether or not children remember nursery rhymes and can play rhyming games. At about age four, parents can notice if children have trouble getting information or directions from conversations or texts that are read aloud to them.

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Once children are in kindergarten, parents should be attuned to whether they are beginning to name the letters and numbers that they see in different contexts and to write them. That said, it is critical that parents always be aware of the tremendous variability among normal, smart children, and that it can be difficult to measure progress.

They must understand that oral language is fundamental to reading, and they should have frequent one-to-one conversation with babies, maintaining eye contact with them. Appropriate language and literacy activities for very young children are featured earlier in this book. See pages Instead, we create a language-rich environment. We have circle time, when we sing songs and use hand gestures to accompany the words.

I help them understand that language has a lot of power and they can get what they want by using language. High-quality preschool programs can boost language and literacy skills and, ultimately, reading achievement. But quality is essential, and many preschools fall short in promoting language and literacy. In a high-quality preschool, the teacher should provide a good model of verbal language throughout the day.

She should also have informal conversations with each child every day, encouraging them to use language by asking open-ended questions, such as why , how , and what-if. Preschools should help children to learn, think, and talk about new domains of knowledge. They do this by providing opportunities for children to use language in a variety of ways, by ensuring lots of interesting conversations in which children are involved, by offering opportunity to play with language in ways that support phonological awareness and by incorporating meaningful uses of literacy into everyday activities.

Children who have a wide body of background knowledge and life experiences are more likely to succeed in reading.

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They are more likely to relate to stories, recognize words in them, and to understand events described in books. Children in America need more opportunities to attend affordable preschools where they will experience high-quality language and literacy environments. If we are to prevent reading difficulties, then children must start school motivated to learn and with the language skills they need in order to learn.

All too often preschool and day care settings for young children provide poor language and literacy environments—particularly for those whose families have limited resources.

It is critical that these settings be designed to support language and literacy. As part of this effort, parents, teachers, pediatricians, social workers, speech language therapists, and other preschool practitioners should strive, using research-derived guidelines, to help children overcome language problems as early as possible. An excellent preschool program can give children long-term benefits that follow them into adulthood.

In this important study, data revealed that children in an excellent part-day preschool program had less need for special education, less grade retention, and significantly higher high school graduation rates than children who did not attend a good preschool. Some of the essential features included:. A well-supplied, well-designed preschool space. The room was divided into various interest areas e.

A regular daily routine. By providing regular expectations and schedules for classroom routines such as planning time, work time, clean-up time, small-group time, outside time, and circle time, children learn to conduct themselves in each activity and when and how to transition between them. Strong parent-teacher communication: Teachers had regular communication with parents, including home visits.

Strong teaching methods and teamwork among teachers. Teachers gave children a comfortable, secure environment that promoted active learning. They helped children make choices and decisions and helped them solve their own problems and do things for themselves. A varied curriculum. Language experiences. Adults regularly engaged children in conversation, soliciting their responses and focusing on their strengths. They talked with children about personally meaningful experiences, describing objects and events. Literacy experiences.

Earlier in this chapter, Growing Up to Read , we presented language and literacy activities for adults and children in a variety of informal settings.

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In this current section we present activities for the preschool. As with the first set of activities, our main purpose is to illustrate the underlying concepts important for preparing children for reading instruction. We expect that the individual activities included will be helpful for most children; however, they are examples rather than comprehensive curricula in themselves. As mentioned earlier in this book, phonological awareness involves an appreciation of the sounds, as well as the meanings, of spoken words. A child who is phonologically aware can demonstrate this, for example: by perceiving and producing rhymes fan, tan, man, etc.

Recent research has confirmed that children who have a greater degree of phonological awareness when they enter school are better equipped to learn to read. A more advanced form of phonological awareness, called phonemic awareness, is the understanding that speech can be broken down into even smaller units phonemes.

This is very important for learning to read, because phonemes are what letters usually stand for. The idea that letters, or groups of letters, represent phonemes is called the alphabetic principle. Preschool teachers can use many appropriate activities to help build phonological awareness in young preschoolers and phonemic awareness in older children. Later, to promote phonemic awareness, the activities can include:.

Commercial products books, software for preschool teachers, with games involving these kinds of activities, are becoming more and more available. Talking about phonemes can also be integrated with letter learning, so that children can be introduced to the sounds of letters i. Children should play with sound and rhymes through a variety of games and songs. Examples of these games and songs follow. Sing songs that play with sound.

Sing songs that play with rhyme. He played knick-knack up to heaven. Read rhyming poetry and rhyming stories. In addition, they practice verbal and narrative skills that are important to the development of reading comprehension. Every preschool classroom should have special materials and play areas geared toward encouraging children in particular domains while appealing to their interests.

Such play centers might include an art center, a nature center, a puppet center, and real-world play areas, such as a store or a restaurant. These areas should be stocked with writing supplies and printed materials that can be incorporated into play. For example, in a block area, maps and labeled photos of buildings and construction sites could be provided.

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In a toy area, use some originally labeled toy containers for storage. In a woodworking area, add tool catalogs, home repair magazines, and picture reference books about building. In a house area, include food packaging, menus, appliance instructions, plane tickets, travel brochures, and computer keyboards. In the outdoor area, provide colored chalk, gardening books, and bird and tree guides. Integral to speech discrimination and phonological awareness is the basic ability to listen carefully.

Teachers can have children listen to books on tape in small groups or one at a time. Teachers can organize play activities, songs, and dances that involve listening to directions. Simon Says is an old favorite and can include sequences of directions at one time, once the children learn the basic game. Through interesting conversations with teachers and peers, children learn vocabulary and language structures that will later help with reading. The key is to prepare for content that is rich and important to the children.

Make time each day for individual conversations with children. Give each child your full attention during the discussion and be. Give the child the chance to take the conversational lead.