Friday, April 24, 2009

Emergent Literacy Coaching Part I

This workshop was presented by Elaine Czarnecki and Dr. Gilda Martinez in order to update Children Services Librarians on the current research on how to get children prepared for school and started reading and how librarians can incorporate this information into their best practices.

Some of the main points:
Literacy is so very important, and it is so necessary to start reading to children even before they begin walking and talking. The pre-school years are especially critical to reading and language development. Adults having conversations with and talking to their children is one of the main ways in which language is acquired.

The following are skills are listed as part of the Voluntary State Curriculum that all kids should know:
  • Vocabulary and Language Development: Children need to be able to gain meaning by listening and speak clearly and convey ideas effectively. Adults can assist in developing this skill by reading to their children and pointing out characters and objects, as well as having conversations with their kids (whether they can talk or not).
  • Phonological Awareness and Sensitivity: It is very important for children to also be able to recognize the different sounds in words so that they can link them to certain letters, which will assist them in developing their vocabularies as well as writing. Adults can assist in developing this by teaching their children rhymes and poetry, songs, and games, and reading books that focus on different sounds.
  • Print Motivation: Children learn what they see. So, if they see their parents are reading and writing, they are more likely to do so themselves. In addition, it is important to have things to read around the house, to give books often, and bring kids to the library to develop these skills. Also, it is essential that parents give kids many opportunities to use their writing skills in differing ways and to give the kids praise for making efforts.
  • Letter Recognition: Preschool children start to recognize letters and learn the alphabet song. It is necessary for parents to start reading alphabet books with their kids and having foam or magnetic letters for them to start using. Also, examining shapes, symbols, and letters in reading help children to develop this skill.
  • Knowledge of Narrative or Story Structure: It is necessary for children to understand the structure of stories. This can be developed by having kids structure their own stories or participate in the re-telling of their favorite stories
  • Comrprehension and Responding to Text: Many testing mechanisms require that children have this skill. To develop this, parents should talk to children about the basic concepts of stories, the events, encourage them to predict outcomes, and create connections between the events and the characters.

The overall goal of these skills is to have children prepared for school. Librarians can use these development practices in their story times, as well as their book groups. Moreover, they can also encourage parents to use these and practice at home. It makes it much easier for parents to incorporate these things if someone has modeled the behavior for them.

The presenters also provided a wonderful resource online where you can get more information on the emergent literacy skills. It is

Click on Emergent Literacy under the Projects heading

For Children Services Librarians and people who work with children in general developing these skill sets is a must!

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