As our Child Care Month celebration of Learning Through Play continues, we would like to explore how play supports early literacy. Language development is perhaps one of the most subtle benefits of play, and also one of the most crucial.
From birth children are constantly exposed to language, the primary stepping stone to literacy. As adults, we instinctively expose children every day to the skills they will need to learn to read by speaking, singing, rhyming and reading with them. A child’s own exploration through play further reinforces their language learning by providing opportunities to try out an array of developing skills. Play, like the development of language, is a natural and essential component of a child's life.While reading to a child is the most obvious way we can facilitate literacy development, it is far from the only one. Singing teaches children event sequencing, word recognition and concepts. Libraries and book corners allow them to practice being respectful of books, creating stories based upon pictures, noticing & recognizing letters, and retelling familiar stories. Group story times encourage children to hypothesize about what will happen next, follow the left to right flow of text and to recognize the difference between fact & fiction. Dramatic play provides opportunities to recognize that text is all around them (for example: magazines at the doctor’s office and boxes in the store,) and encourages familiarity with letter recognition. Art supports language development and literacy in many forms, including making books, seeing their name on their pictures and documenting the story of their art to encourage storytelling, flow of text and modelling of writing. Almost any play experience will offer opportunities to support emerging literacy!
Here are some easy ways to build literacy learning into your child’s play experience at home...
· Have your child help you make a grocery list by “reading” the flyer. Through identifying the pictures they learn to recognize the text.
· Spell words and names aloud as you write them.
· Create stories together, particularly ones which feature alliteration and rhyming.
· Read, read and reread.... familiar stories encourage children to take part in reading by completing lines and “fill in the blanks.”
· Identify letters everywhere- stores, signs, etc. Pick a letter and count how many you can find together wherever you are... this is a great way to fill time in waiting rooms and long lines!