Experts are worried about the impact COVID-19 will have on students, particularly younger students in the crucial early stage of academic development. How can we prevent what has become known as COVID slide and continue to support our children to build strong foundations for future success?
Years of research continue to demonstrate the importance of early literacy development and the impact it has on future academic achievement. Despite this wealth of research, it continues to lose out in a competition for limited resources and as a focus of public policy. Now, with COVID-19, and distance learning, the challenge becomes more acute as this age group is missing out on critical time in their foundational development. Scholastic compiled data from the “Family and Community Engagement Research Compendium” that shows the windows of opportunity, in terms of age, for the development and enhancement of critical skills. Most of these windows occur between ages 2 and 4 years old.
Early literacy has always been critical. The role of parents in the early development of literacy and other foundational skills has always been important. What we’re seeing now is parents being thrust into a position where they are the sole face-to-face educators. We are seeing that distance learning on a digital platform does not work very well, particularly for this age group.
Young learners thrive in play-based learning, with opportunities for social interaction and imagination. They learn through manipulating the world around them, through question and answer, and through live interaction- all things a computer screen cannot deliver on its own. Now, it is more important than ever before, that parents have the tools, resources and support to help their children and prevent what has become known as COVID slide.
How can we empower parents to create experiential learning opportunities at home that help build early literacy and other foundational skills during this crucial window in child development?
Why is this time so critical? I read books aloud to my kid, then they go to school and learn to read- right? Wrong!
There is a crucial stage in between called early literacy. The ability to read “is shaped by early literacy experiences long before a child encounters formal reading instruction. Providing children strong literacy education in the early years leads to better academic outcomes and reading success later on (Campbell et al., 2002).
So how do we create early literacy experiences? What does that look like?
In many cases, parents have chaotic schedules; they may not have the time, resources or training to create intricate learning experiences for their children, which is completely understandable! Below I’ve posted some relatively easy ways you can incorporate more early literacy development into your daily routines.
1)Read, Read, Read
Reading aloud is one of the single most important things you can do to help your child build a strong foundation in literacy. It is strongly linked to the development of oral language skills, including a more robust vocabulary. They will also begin to observe the purpose of reading.
2) Ask Questions
Instead of simply reading the story exactly as it is written, pause and ask questions. You can ask questions about the images, or words. You can add socio-emotional learning and ask about the characters’ feelings or actions. This tip can go beyond storytime though. Narrate your day; ask your child questions about what he/she is doing and why; explain what you’re doing and why.
3) Search For Answers
If your child asks you a “why” question (as will inevitably happen) and you don’t know the answer, investigate! Let your child see how you find information, how you problem solve and how you learn. You can show him/her the strategies you use and together, you can discover new things. These are called teachable moments and we need to recognize them and maximize their potential to help our kids learn how to learn.
4) Turn Everyday Activities Into Learning Experiences
Think about how many things you do each day that include letters, numbers, connections and fine/gross motor skills. It could be talking about the letters the vegetables begin with as you cook, or counting the number of goldfish your little one can have for a snack. If you are consciously thinking about how to incorporate these things into everyday activities, you will find they fit pretty naturally!
If you’re still stuck, you can always google activities you can do at home, or (shameless plug) check out the other posts on this blog or my YouTube Channel where I have tons of fun DIY activities you can do easily at home. Consider subscribing to stay updated on new, related posts.
How do you bring learning into your home?
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