Promoting Childhood Literacy

Written By: Mary M. Alward
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The number of American adults who are illiterate is astounding. People who lack the ability to read well have a tough time succeeding in life. Thousands of students across the nation, from every walk of life, face significant challenges while learning to read.

Learning Disabled

Hundreds of children in the US are labeled as “learning disabled” only because they lack the ability to read well. The children who are most often given this label are those from racial minorities, poor families and children who do not speak English as a first language.

100% Literacy

In order for our children to be successful, they must be able to read and decipher advanced materials. Understanding the printed word is necessary for them to have the ability to solve independent problems. The people of the US must work together and strive for 100% literacy in our society. Learning to be literate begins at birth.

The Process of Learning to Read

Learning to read is a complicated process. Students must learn sentence structure, vocabulary, grammar and phonics in order to read well and to enjoy the written word. Teachers and parents should constantly monitor students abilities in reading comprehension and encourage them to read a broad range of subject matter. This will allow them to achieve fluency in reading and achieve both word recognition and reading comprehension. Children can then learn to read rapidly, accurately, be well coordinated and have the ability to comprehend what they read.

Characteristics of a Good Reader

In order for students to be successful they must accomplish the following:

• Be able to read fluently.

• To use strategies and background knowledge in order to understand the written word.

• Be able to decipher printed words.

• Be able to understand the English alphabet and how the letters are put together to form words.

If children are instructed properly, these points will be addressed and integrated in such a way that they will be proficient in all of them, which in turn will allow them to become accomplished readers.

Instill a Love of Reading

It’s never too early to instill a love of reading in a child. A basis for reading success can begin when children are only a few weeks old. Infanthood is a perfect time to introduce a child to books. Babies as young as six weeks old will sit on a parent’s knee and look at brilliantly colored picture books. They also find security in the sound of your voice as you read to them. For years they will look forward to spending reading time with you. This enables children to have a good grasp of language and literacy before they enter junior kindergarten. When they first enter the classroom, they have what it takes to become fluent readers. Accomplishments of these young children include awareness of phonics and oral language skills, the awareness of letters and print and an appreciation of literacy and oral language skills.

How to Achieve These Accomplishments

The above accomplishments are best achieved through a range of activities that promote growth in a variety of areas of development, including:

• Gross motor development.

• Fine motor development.

• Language development.

• Emotional development.

• Social development.

• Cognitive Development.

When young children are offered the opportunity they develop:

• A basic understanding of the world they live in.

• Language skills.

• Vocabulary skills.

They understand the concept of books and how they are used. They begin exploring the world through books as well as the world of reading and writing. They learn how words are structured by the use of letters of the alphabet.

Talk to Your Kids

Talk to your kids about books and daily happenings. This enables them to build language skills, vocabulary and to learn about the world they live in. Ask them what happened at daycare, kindergarten or school. Talk about what you did at work. This helps children to understand how things work and gives them the ability to understand the concept of stories.

Give the Gift of Love

Children develop a love of literacy through books. Take them to the library at least once a week and allow them to choose books that they are interested in. Children should have constant access to a large number of books on a variety of subjects. On special occasions, such as Christmas or birthdays, give the gift of love - give a book. A word of caution here. When choosing books for a child, be sure to pick something at their reading and interest level. Another way you can give the gift of literacy is to enroll children in a reading program, whether at school, the library or an after-school club.

Our Responsibility

It is the responsibility of every parent and teacher to instill a love of reading in the children around them. As a society, we must provide every child with the opportunity to be successful through literacy.

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