March 2024 Newsletter – Best Practices When Reading with Children: What Can Families do to Support Literacy Development at Home?

What Can Families do to Support Literacy Development at Home?

There are many opportunities to help children learn the skills needed on the path to literacy. Educators provide many of these opportunities throughout the school day. At home, there are also many ways families can support literacy development for their little ones. Partnerships between school and home are very beneficial to children’s literacy. As educators, we must be a resource on how families can support literacy development at home.

Let families know what books are being read in the classroom, and what skills the children are learning from them. Share with families what the children are learning and working on in school. Share strategies they can use at home to teach similar skills.

Families can be encouraged to:

  • Teach children nursery rhymes and songs from different cultural traditions to strengthen language development. This can also help children develop an understanding of the patterns of language while learning about different cultures.
  • Model the behavior they want to see. Setting aside time for reading away from other distractions will show children how reading can be incorporated into daily life. Adults at home should also let their children see them engage in reading for pleasure on a regular basis.
  • Hang different kinds of print around the house, and label objects in the home. This shows the importance of language, reading, and writing.
  • Speak to children as a way to increase vocabulary and develop language. Children who have more conversations with adults learn more words.
  • Play word games, whether they are informal or actual board games, as a fun way to promote literacy.
  • Make books accessible at all times will encourage kids to read. It is helpful to have a mixture of familiar and new books, which can be accomplished by frequent visits to the local library.
  • Provide a wide variety of books to read. Favorite picture books can provide comfort. Graphic novels can keep reluctant readers engaged. Nonfiction books should be incorporated into reading time, as they can provide knowledge of science, history, cultures, and many other topics. Children who have more background knowledge have an easier time learning new concepts.

Another way to support literacy at home is to encourage the child to tell stories. This will help them gain a better understanding of the rhythm of storytelling, which will benefit them as they grow and read more complex stories.

At-home reading experiences should be based on children’s interests, meaning that families should be responsive to children’s level of engagement and attention during reading activities. Remind families that it is fine to put a bookmark in a book if their child loses interest in the book.

Whatever methods are used, literacy support at home should be encouraged, and early childhood educators are a valuable resource for families.

 

For the main article Best Practices When Reading with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Tips and Strategies to Use When Reading With Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Developmentally Appropriate Literacy Learning in Early Childhood, CLICK HERE

For the article What are Interactive Read-Alouds?, CLICK HERE

March 2024 Newsletter – Best Practices When Reading with Children: What are Interactive Read-Alouds?

What are Interactive Read-Alouds?

Reading aloud to children is a common occurrence in schools. An effective and productive way to maximize the benefits of reading to kids is to conduct interactive read-alouds.

Interactive read-alouds offer planned opportunities for the students to interact with the text. During interactive read-alouds, teachers read carefully selected books and stories to the students. Throughout the reading, teachers stop to ask thought-provoking discussion questions, encouraging students to actively engage with the story that is being read. The interactions can include:

  • Asking prediction questions.
  • Asking about characters’ emotions or actions.
  • Talking to a partner about what was just read.
  • Giving a gesture of approval or disapproval of something that is occurring in the story.
  • Acting out what the character in the story may be doing or feeling.

These are just a few ways to encourage the children to actively participate throughout the read-aloud process.

There are numerous benefits to interactive read-alouds. In addition to building literacy foundations, they promote a sense of classroom community. In a community,  teachers and students connect through conversation and sharing.

This reading time allows teachers to expose students to age-appropriate, complex, and engaging stories that they may not be able to read on their own. Reading these books will help develop and build vocabulary and knowledge to prepare them for later reading.

Interactive read-alouds allow educators to model reading fluency, effective comprehension, and vocabulary which students need to develop to become strong readers. Read-alouds also help children strengthen their listening skills and increase their interest in reading.

Effective interactive read-alouds do not just happen on their own. This takes strategic preparation from the teacher. To plan an interactive read-aloud, choose the book or story you want to read with intentionality. Preview the book and think about the reading skills that you want the children to learn. Consider the other learning opportunities that exist based on the topic of the book and be sure to capitalize on those learning experiences as well.

Plan the skills you want to teach and how you will do so. Choose and mark where you will stop reading and note what you will ask the students to do at those points. Rereading the story multiple times in multiple lessons is of great benefit to the children, teaching different standards and skills each time, so plan on doing so.

There are many resources on how to plan an effective interactive read-aloud, and many suggestions on great books to use. Gather those books, make your plan, and set children on their journey to literacy.

 

For the main article Best Practices When Reading with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Tips and Strategies to Use When Reading With Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Developmentally Appropriate Literacy Learning in Early Childhood, CLICK HERE

For the article What Can Families do to Support Literacy Development at Home?, CLICK HERE

March 2024 Newsletter – Best Practices When Reading with Children: Developmentally Appropriate Literacy Learning in Early Childhood

Developmentally Appropriate Literacy Learning in Early Childhood

As early childhood educators, we are responsible for teaching the pre-literacy skills that will prepare our students to learn how to read as they get older. The goal is to provide the background knowledge they need to understand how letters and language work. As with all lessons, we have to ensure that literacy learning is fun, interactive, and developmentally appropriate. Using developmentally appropriate literacy activities will ensure that children develop a love of reading.

The single most effective way to teach young children the foundations of literacy, and establish a love for reading is to read to them daily. Reading aloud to young children is a fun and effective way to teach the skills emerging readers need. Another article in this newsletter examines further the effective use of interactive read aloud to teach literacy skills.

Encourage frequent trips to the library, attend book fairs, and host read-aloud events on a regular basis. If you are not able to bring in professional entertainers to read books to children, invite immediate and extended family members to visit the classroom and read their favorite children’s books to the group. There may be high school students in your area who need volunteer hours – They can volunteer to do so at your center.

When children begin to show interest, introduce the alphabet, starting with relevant letters, such as the letters of their name. Learning about upper and lower case letters, and beginning to recognize individual letter sounds in words are skills that are the foundation of reading. Helping our preschoolers develop phonemic awareness and master the alphabet is extremely important. There are many ways to help our students with phonemic awareness. Using songs, finger plays, games, poems, and stories with patterns of rhyme and alliteration will help our students with phonemic awareness.

The environment of our classroom is an important component of literacy learning. We must provide our students with print-rich environments that provide opportunities and tools for children to use written language for a variety of purposes. Label the objects in the environment so children associate the letters/words with the objects in the classroom.

Build components of literacy into every activity and lesson. Give the students opportunities to engage in play that incorporates literacy tools by adding paper and pencils to all of the learning centers.  Reading, writing, and listening centers should be well-stocked and accessible at all times. Both fiction and nonfiction books should be available in all centers to support the theme or the concept that is being taught.

Finally, reading experiences and lessons should be pleasurable and fun. When children enjoy the process, they are more likely to learn.

Children who learn basic comprehension skills, develop a significant vocabulary, and establish early phonemic awareness will be ready to learn more complex literacy skills as they enter elementary school. It is our responsibility to provide children with meaningful, everyday experiences, in which they build this foundation. Learning these foundational skills during the preschool years is of utmost importance if children become strong readers and communicators.

 

For the main article Best Practices When Reading with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Tips and Strategies to Use When Reading With Children, CLICK HERE

For the article What are Interactive Read-Alouds?, CLICK HERE

For the article What Can Families do to Support Literacy Development at Home?, CLICK HERE

March 2024 Newsletter – Best Practices When Reading with Children: Tips and Strategies to Use When Reading With Children

Tips and Strategies to Use When Reading With Children

Reading to children has been proven to promote literacy learning. As educators, we are able to begin laying the foundations of literacy regardless of their age. Reading books to kids is a fun way to introduce the skills needed to begin to learn how to read. So what are ways we can make the most of our reading experiences to provide the most benefit?

Let’s look at some tips and strategies we can use.

  • Reading aloud to kids should be part of a daily routine. Begin with shorter books and time, as children get older and their attention spans grow we can spend more time on this activity. Allow the kids to select the book to read, this will get the kids involved in the process.
  • When reading to kids, use a technique called dialogue reading. Dialogue reading involves talking about what is being read. Use the text and illustrations to talk about what is happening in the story and on the page. This will help the child make connections, explore, and explain what is happening in the story.
  • To make the read-aloud experience more enjoyable and beneficial, make it interactive. Show emotion, use different voices, incorporate actions, engage the senses, point out pictures, and allow the students to participate and interact with the story. Another article in this newsletter dives further into what interactive read-alouds are, their benefits, and how to incorporate them into the daily routine.
  • Read the same book over and over again. Children love to jump in to “read” their favorite parts of the book back to you, based on their memory of the story. Studies have shown that reading the same book multiple times can help children develop language skills and improve reading comprehension.
  • When reading aloud slide your finger under the words from left to right as you read with fluency using somewhat exaggerated expressions. Finger-point reading helps children make voice-to-print connections, which is very important in the literacy process. When reading to kids, be sure to define new words that they do not know. Explain a few of the words before beginning to read the book. Each time you re-read the book, you can explain different new words. This will help build the children’s vocabulary.

No matter what tips or strategies you use when reading to kids, the most important thing is to make it fun and interactive. It will lay the foundation for literacy learning and is one of the most important tasks an early childhood educator can do.

 

For the main article Best Practices When Reading with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Developmentally Appropriate Literacy Learning in Early Childhood, CLICK HERE

For the article What are Interactive Read-Alouds?, CLICK HERE

For the article What Can Families do to Support Literacy Development at Home?, CLICK HERE

March 2024 Newsletter – Best Practices When Reading with Children

As early childhood educators, placing our young students on the path to literacy is one of our more important tasks. Learning to read begins as early as babies when they hear and respond to the human voice. Supporting oral language development in babies and toddlers will help with literacy learning down the road. Children need to hear and understand spoken language to begin their steps toward literacy. Becoming aware of the different sounds of the language, and learning about letters and words in print is the foundation for learning how to read and write. As our students get older we are able to introduce more foundations of literacy by reading books with them.

Reading to children is one of the best activities in promoting literacy in young children. As ECE professionals, we are developing the skills that act as the foundation for literacy. When we share books with very young children we support emerging literacy. We help children learn that pictures and words are symbols that can be interpreted, children are exposed to new words, increasing their vocabulary, and we help children familiarize themselves with the conventions of print in our language. This lays the foundation for learning to read.

In this month’s newsletter, we will discuss best practices when reading aloud to children. We will give tips and strategies to use when reading aloud, and discuss what interactive read-alouds are and how they can be used in the classroom. We will also explore what families can do to support literacy development at home and delve into what developmentally appropriate literacy learning in preschools looks like. In this month’s blog, we will also discuss how we can use our reading times as opportunities to reach multi-language learners and culturally diverse classrooms.

 

For the article Tips and Strategies to Use When Reading With Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Developmentally Appropriate Literacy Learning in Early Childhood, CLICK HERE

For the article What are Interactive Read-Alouds?, CLICK HERE

For the article What Can Families do to Support Literacy Development at Home?, CLICK HERE

February 2024 Newsletter – Tech Skills for Children: Building Computer Science Confidence for Teachers

Building Computer Science Confidence for Teachers

The children of today are exposed to rapidly changing technology and it does not show signs of slowing down. Educators need to prepare children to navigate their world, which includes technology that permeates almost every aspect of daily living.  This can present a challenge to early childhood educators for several reasons.

Educators that did not grow up in a digital world sometimes find technology difficult to use and an intimidating subject to teach. Educators who are not confident in their own technological abilities may find it difficult to teach students in this area. The ever-evolving nature of technology also presents an obstacle and helps foster a lack of confidence. Other challenges that can complicate the situation are a lack of access to technology and the cost of purchasing and maintaining hardware and software products.   How do we help our educators confidently teach these required skills? First, administrators must commit to supporting the development of these skills for their teachers, including training, access to resources, and ongoing encouragement.

To help teachers who are not confident in their tech skills, developing their knowledge of computer science is essential. There are various ways to do so. Making computer science a part of ongoing professional development is key to developing confident tech teachers. Check out CCEI’s series focused on the topic:

There are many resources online that can also be used to learn more, many of which are included in this newsletter.  Having teachers who are more tech-savvy mentor those who lack confidence in their tech skills is a good practice. Using an unplugged approach to teaching tech skills also helps teachers feel more comfortable teaching the subject and also helps alleviate the disparity in access to technology.

The challenges of teaching children tech skills and computer science must be overcome by early childhood educators. We must overcome our own lack of tech competency, fear of technology, lack of confidence in our tech skills, or any other obstacle that may hinder our ability to teach our children in this subject area. This means working together to identify obstacles and create plans to address the areas identified.

The future of our children is digital, and we must prepare them for that world.

 

For the main article Tech Skills for Children, CLICK HERE

For the article The “Unplugged” Approach to Exploring Computer Science, CLICK HERE

For the article The Benefits of Computational Thinking Skills for Younger Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Can Preschoolers Learn Coding?, CLICK HERE

February 2024 Newsletter – Tech Skills for Children: Can Preschoolers Learn Coding?

Can Preschoolers Learn Coding?

When we think of computer programming and coding, we often think about very technical processes and complex computer languages. However, coding can be very simple, making it a perfect entry point for preschool-age children. Coding is essentially telling a computer what you want it to do. It consists of creating a step-by-step guide for the computer to follow to accomplish a task.

At the preschool level, we are laying the foundation for children to think like computer programmers.  Coding helps teach problem-solving skills and develops new ways of thinking. Coding teaches children to think logically. There are several coding concepts that preschoolers can understand including, algorithms, sequencing, and loops. Let’s explore further:

  • Algorithms: We use algorithms daily. An algorithm is simply a set of instructions used to accomplish a certain task and receive the desired result. For example, the steps used to get dressed properly is an algorithm. There is a certain order to putting on clothes that must be followed to be dressed correctly. You can encourage children to create an algorithm for dressing a classroom doll. Ask students to create a detailed list of the steps required for dressing the doll. They can challenge each other to follow each other’s algorithms and analyze the results. They can identify what worked, which steps are missing, and which steps might need to be reorganized. Illustrating the daily routine and referring to it often is also an example of an algorithm used to navigate each day.
  • Sequencing: Another concept that preschoolers can understand is sequencing. Sequencing is basically completing a task in a certain order. Helping students understand what a sequence is can be accomplished by using their favorite storybook. Using different scenes from the book, have the students sort out the order in which the events happened in the story. Ask questions that require children to think about what the story would be like if pieces were missing or out of order.
  • Loops: A third concept of coding that children can understand is loops. A loop in coding allows the programmer to repeat something again and again as many times as desired. A loop in code is a “repeat” button for instructions. If you have a list of things to do and you want the computer to do it repeatedly, use a loop to tell the computer to keep doing it until I want you to stop. A great way to teach this concept is through instructions on how to perform the steps of a dance.

The concepts of algorithms, sequences, and loops are basic to coding. Gaining an early understanding of what these are will establish a foundation for learning to code. Our preschoolers can be taught these concepts in easy-to-understand ways. While explaining and teaching these coding concepts to younger children it is useful to start with examples of tasks with which children are already familiar. These simple examples will teach the basic concepts of coding. There are many resources online with fun coding activities for young children that can be used in your classroom.

So, the answer to our question, “Can preschoolers learn coding?”, the answer is of course they can!

 

For the main article Tech Skills for Children, CLICK HERE

For the article The “Unplugged” Approach to Exploring Computer Science, CLICK HERE

For the article The Benefits of Computational Thinking Skills for Younger Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Building Computer Science Confidence for Teachers, CLICK HERE

February 2024 Newsletter – Tech Skills for Children: The Benefits of Computational Thinking Skills for Younger Children

The Benefits of Computational Thinking Skills for Younger Children

Computational thinking skills are developed through the study of computer science and coding. These important skills can be taught to preschoolers effectively through developmentally appropriate activities providing great benefit to our young learners. But what exactly do we mean when we say computational thinking skills?

Computational thinking is the process of breaking down a problem into simple steps that even a computer can understand. The key skills associated with computational thinking are decomposition, pattern recognition, pattern abstraction, and algorithm design. These may seem too complex for young learners but take a look at the explanations below. You may find these skills are actually more applicable to early childhood than you originally thought.

  • Decomposition is breaking down problems into smaller more manageable pieces. Decomposition allows students to assess the problem and figure out all the steps needed to make the task happen. This skill can be taught by getting the students to teach you how to perform a simple task. For example, ask children to break down the steps of handwashing. encourage them to think about the very specific instructions that are needed to know how to complete each step of the task.
  • Pattern Recognition is simply looking for patterns in problems. We determine if what we have learned in the past can help solve a current problem we are experiencing. Younger students can benefit from exploring patterns using music or multi-color blocks.
  • Pattern Abstraction is learning to identify the details that are relevant to solving the problem and ignoring the details that aren’t relative to the solution. This skill can be taught by a building activity where extra pieces and objects that are not part of the design are given along with the needed pieces. Students will have to identify which pieces are important to the design and which are irrelevant to the design.
  • Algorithm design involves laying out the steps and rules of a task that are needed to achieve the desired outcome every time the task is completed. This builds on the decomposition skills children are learning. Let’s return to the example of handwashing. Ask students to draw the steps in order, then you can perform the steps as a test of their work. Use only the steps that the students have provided to try to complete the task, then discuss which steps are missing, out of order, or not needed to accomplish the task.

Besides being the actual skills needed to code and program computers, computational thinking skills are of great benefit to students. They teach children how to describe a problem, identify the important details needed to solve a problem, break the problem down into detailed steps, put the steps in the correct order, and then evaluate the entire process.

Children develop reasoning, problem-solving skills, and emotional competencies. Computational thinking skills teach children to think logically. These skills are transferable to any curriculum area and are important to all subjects across the curriculum.

 

For the main article Tech Skills for Children, CLICK HERE

For the article The “Unplugged” Approach to Exploring Computer Science, CLICK HERE

For the article Can Preschoolers Learn Coding?, CLICK HERE

For the article Building Computer Science Confidence for Teachers, CLICK HERE

February 2024 Newsletter – Tech Skills for Children: The “Unplugged” Approach to Exploring Computer Science

The “Unplugged” Approach to Exploring Computer Science

Children these days are born into a technological world. The children in our care need to learn technology skills just as much as the other skills they traditionally learn. Exploring computer science has become as important as learning to read and write. Computer science, coding, and other related skills may seem too advanced for young children. However, establishing a strong foundation in this area is just as valuable as the other skills introduced in early childhood.

Obstacles to exploring technology, such as expensive devices, limits on screen time, and developmentally appropriate practices may seem to restrict what preschoolers can learn about computer science. However, many associated skills can be learned in a variety of playful and fun ways in an unplugged environment.

Unplugged merely means that computational thinking skills associated with computer science and coding are taught without the use of computers. Taking an unplugged approach provides opportunities for all children to practice skills, even in learning environments that do not incorporate computers or tablets. It allows skills to be taught in developmentally appropriate ways that can help children learn the foundational concepts and skills that will be used later in life.

An unplugged approach teaches actual technical concepts using puzzles, games, art, and other hands-on activities that do not require the use of a computer or other technology. You may be surprised to discover that many of these activities may already be familiar to you and the children. Many resources can be found online with activities and ideas for teachers on coding and other tech skills.

Early exposure to these activities lays the foundation for further tech skill learning while promoting development in other learning domains. Computer science exploration supports:

  • Collaboration and cooperation
  • Executive functions and self-regulation skills
  • Sequencing and other mathematical concepts
  • Problem-solving and creative thinking
  • Language and communication skills
  • Fine motor skills
  • Self-confidence and other emotional skills

There are also benefits for educators using an unplugged approach. This approach can lessen the anxiety associated with having to learn digital programs and technologies.  It can be implemented in environments where computers are not available or limited, and aligns with screen time guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Introducing young children to computer science and the world of technology is easier and more exciting than we think. Gather your resources, plan your activities, and have fun preparing your students for their technological future.

 

For the main article Tech Skills for Children, CLICK HERE

For the article The Benefits of Computational Thinking Skills for Younger Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Can Preschoolers Learn Coding?, CLICK HERE

For the article Building Computer Science Confidence for Teachers, CLICK HERE

February 2024 Newsletter – Tech Skills for Children

Tech Skills for Children

The world we live in is increasingly becoming a digital world. Possessing technical skills and knowledge is becoming a requisite just to navigate many daily routines. Teaching technology skills to children has become a necessity and has begun to be incorporated into curriculum and early learning standards for students across all age groups.

Introducing the basics of computer science, computational thinking skills, and coding to preschoolers can seem daunting. However, these important skills can be taught using methods that are familiar to both teachers and students, without devices or any screen time at all.  These beneficial concepts and skills can be taught in an “unplugged” manner, that will lay a foundation for more technical learning down the road.

In this month’s newsletter, we will look at the benefits of promoting computational thinking and explore ways to introduce related foundational skills to young children. We will also examine ways that teachers can build confidence when engaging in these activities. With this information, teachers will be better prepared to help children navigate and understand their digital world.

 

For the article The “Unplugged” Approach to Exploring Computer Science, CLICK HERE

For the article The Benefits of Computational Thinking Skills for Younger Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Can Preschoolers Learn Coding?, CLICK HERE

For the article Building Computer Science Confidence for Teachers, CLICK HERE