Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Literacy

That was the topic in the parents class at ECFE. And I had been waiting quite eagerly for it. Which Indian mother wouldn't ?! As much as I hate it, but the competition out there beginning right from getting a 4 year old into a 'reputed' school and a never ending process from then on, gets to me at times. The almost inhuman pressures of 'studies' when a kid should actually be chasing cats or hiding behind bushes call for an entire independent post on them, so let me not digress and share some useful pointers from the discussion we had today. I do strive for making it lots of fun and that being the focus rather than the learning at this point of time.

- Nothing new in this one, the beginning of getting children to read is to talk, talk, talk to them. A child who is interacted with for about an hour every day enters Kindergarten with a vocabulary of 8000-10,000 words, which is the approximate vocab a child has to have before he can start reading. We, very fortunately have a former reading specialist among us (someone who helps children who have difficulty reading due to a disorder or other reasons, get over their difficulties and start reading) and she pitched in with very meaningful comments from time to time. Its always better to talk to the kids in context, which means even though its good to show flash cards and books with pictures of animals but real learning takes place when we are out there on the road or the grocery store or any lace for that matter and talking about things that we are looking at or may be recalling them from those flash cards.

- Books - There were several aspects of this one.

  • Get them interested from a young age. Make visits to the library or book store frequent.
  • Let them choose their own books and have them own some books.
  • Its okay and common for children to have favorites and wanting to read them over and over again and it actually builds and strengthens brain connections. (There was a time when I felt that Vansh only wanted to read books with cars or trucks in them and I wanted him to read about other things as well. So for a few days, I removed all cars and trucks books and only had books about animals or other things. And Vansh showed zero interest in those and didn't want to read at all. So for us, I had to let him have his own likes and dislikes and read about whatever he chose to because right now its more important to get him interest in reading.)
  • While reading, encourage them to think and talk about what they think is going on in the picture. Connect stories to what's happening in the real world.
  • Have exaggerated expressions; add sound effects for getting them more interested. (Cars vrrroooming and things falling with a boom bam tadaan and a heavy looking man talking in a heavy tone of voice are some of Vansh's favorites)
  • Read yourself and let your child watch and pay attention to the value your family places on reading.
- Just as exaggerated expressions and sounds get them interested in books, exaggerated movements of hands and feet are precursors of writing skills. So making big imaginary circles, jumping ropes with those big hand movements, drawing large O's on an easel or the ground are actually things which help develop that part of the brain which ultimately helps a child write. This was pretty insightful. In fact do drop in more suggestions, if you happen to read this, on getting a child more interested to write.

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