When you hear the word literacy you probably imagine a book, a pen and a note pad. You’re not alone – even the Oxford dictionary boasts the ability to read and write as the most common definition. However according to UNESCO, literacy isn’t just the act of reading and writing but is about extracting meaning from human communications – be they visual, written, spoken, sung or drawn.
Literacy in all forms is crucial to enhancing how we connect with the world around us. By giving children the gift of literacy, we allow them the opportunities to think critically, imagine, play and be active global citizens. As Australia’s literacy rates drop, we don’t just face a future of children who shy away from books, but one where children are simply disconnected. But never fear – increasing children’s engagement with literacy in the early years really is as simple as A, B & C.
A – Art
When children manipulate art supplies, they aren’t just making a mess, they are creating meaningful masterpieces. Art allows children to express themselves in wholly unique ways and is entirely relative to their perception of the world.
When a child draws a tree or paints a rainbow, they give us a moment’s glance into how they see the world. The more we ask question and encourage children to talk about their creations, the more they understand how to extract meaning and communicate about their world.
Books, books, BOOKS! Studies shows that even infants benefit from reading and storytelling, so it is never too early to start! As their hearing develops, children become attuned to the tones of language and the timbre of your voice, allowing them to interpret human behaviour from an early age. As you read with them, children learn that when your voice gets LOUD, you’re angry or when it shakes something sad has happened.
Making verbal connections to written stories also supports comprehension and encourages children to further engage with the story. Making observations like, “those blue shoes are the same as your blue shoes,” will help children understand similarities and differences and teach them to attach meaning in a relatable context.
At its core, literacy is about communicating and understanding meaning. Spoken language supports children’s literacy development so the more we talk with children, the better their understanding is likely to be. Don’t stop at verbal communication! Drawing pictures, mark-making in the sand and even limited screen time can have huge benefits for children in their literacy success.
Immersive literacy environments like those at MindChamps Early Learning build a love of reading and communicating. The right childcare centre will work with you and your child to achieve your literacy goals. Book a visit to find out how MindChamps are transforming pre-school literacy for the better!
Written by: Anula Keenan