Who educates your children? The school? Their teachers? It's easy to put it off and say this isn't on us. We feed them, clothe them, raise them, learning is the school's problem.
But that isn't how it works. Research shows that learning ability begins at birth. And a lot depends on the activities children do with their parents, at home, before the age of five. So, a big part of it is on you.
What is emergent literacy?
It refers to the informal early learning stages of children. Or the part where your child is learning how to read and write. And the role you play in these early years affects how they learn and develop their literacy skills. A lot of the literature you read on the subject can sound vague.
However, if you want an exact image of what emergent literacy is, well, you already have it. It's when you read a picture book to a toddler, and they point at the pictures. Or when you read them a storybook, and they turn the pages. It is the sounds they make to sing along to your nursery rhyme. It is every crayon scribble and gaggle sound. When you put in that effort, your child instinctively responds as its brain processes the information.
Why is it important?
These early steps are essential in helping your child learn how to read and write later in school. The babbling leads to speaking, the scribbles to writing, and the page-turning to reading. Studies prove how students who read at a higher level were read to, by their parents, in childhood and early infancy.
How can you help your children develop these skills?
The best part is that it's straightforward to help your children develop these skills. All it takes is spending time with them and doing simple activities.
Speaking: Children absorb information from the adults around them. Their brains don't know how language works. So, when you talk to them, they take in the form and shape of words. The sounds they make are them trying to copy your tone and rhythm.
So, spend as much time talking to your children as possible. Don't try to copy their baby talk or make sounds back at them. Instead, speak normally and in short sentences. Ask them questions and pretend you're having a regular conversation with them. This will help your child learn how to speak quicker.
Reading Storybooks: Make storybook reading a daily habit. Pick books with colourful images and repeat the same ones. A mistake a lot of parents make today is reading from their kindle or phone. By doing that, you are robbing your child of the opportunity to participate in the activity.
You don't want to distract them with a bright screen. You want to have that bonding moment where you move your child's finger under the line. Or when they turn the page while you're in the middle of a sentence. It is the activity that matters. And the interaction that will teach them how to read.
Singing Nursery Rhymes: Remember, children pick up the language through tone and rhythm. The reason nursery rhymes work is the same reason a catchy song sticks in your head
When you sing your child a nursery rhyme their undivided attention is on you. Take classics like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. At some point, they'll start copying your hand movements. Then they'll try to copy the words.
Drawing and Coloring: Handling writing mediums is the first step to learning how to write. Those early crayon squiggles might not look like much, but that is your child learning how to hold the crayon. It helps them adjust to the weight of the tools and develops hand control and dexterity.
Toys and games: There are a lot of games you can play with your children. But some toys are more useful than others. One toy you should get your child is building blocks. They come in all sizes and colours. And you can play together to build houses, trains, and all sorts of things.
Studies into the subject show that children who grow up playing with blocks are more likely to pursue careers in fields like engineering. That is because the act of building things and joining parts develops key parts of their brains.
There are a lot of steps you can take to improve your child's ability. All it takes is a little attention. It can be easy to overlook those early steps, however, their importance cannot be overemphasised!
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