The best way for children to develop literacy and language skills is to…(drumroll please)…read and talk with them as much as possible! Reading builds phonological awareness (matching sounds to written letters) and talking with them builds phonemic awareness (matching sounds to letters orally)–both of these increase your child’s vocabulary and intelligence!
- Stories are read to the children daily during every Circle Time and Story Time. It is also done one-on-one during the week to help your child identify basic sight words and develop his/her reading skills.
- For select lessons in STEM, Arts and Crafts, and Music and Theater, we often include stories to read and interact with (e.g. counting, discussing, reading practice).
- There is a permanent library here with plenty of board books, picture books, phonics beginning reader books, story books, and touch and feel books. I also get up to 50 new children’s books a month from local libraries that include Caldecott and other award winning books, seasonal and themed books, child favorites, Dr. Seuss, and whichever topics I’ve observed each child interested in.
- Three to four months out of the year, we will read them a chapter book throughout the month (Charlottes Web and the BFG to name a couple).
- During afternoon Montessori time on Wednesdays, we have a Reading Buddies program like in elementary school, when older children are available to read to them and help them sound out words.
- We have a children’s Lending Library outside that they enjoy sorting through to choose books to borrow for at home.
Writing is practiced every day. Proper pencil-grip and handling, letter formation, spacing between letters and words, and font size are all skills we focus on to help them prepare for Kindergarten. We also to teach them how to legibly and correctly write their first name and last initial in addition to basic sight words (e.g. mom, dad, the). Phonological awareness is taught with our reading, letter-of-the-day game, and as we incorporate literacy into other lessons.
Phonemic and Phonological (Phonics) Awareness
Sounding out letters, blended letters (like ‘st’), and words is practiced daily with conversational engagement and fun activities such as our Alphabet Sound song and letter-of-the-day game. We enjoy speaking with the children all day! Children’s imaginations, open perspectives, and precious insights never cease to amaze! Your child will also be able to match the proper sound of a letter to the written symbol (alphabet letter) and learn how to decode basic sight words to sound out letters as they read and write.
Literacy, defined as reading and writing (and comprehension of a subject), is one of the most useful skills your child will ever learn! Language will also greatly influence their social, academic, and cognitive development, therefore both are the primary focus within our program. If your child’s primary language is not English, this is especially helpful for preparing your child for elementary school (see ESL below).
Foreign Language Introduction
During various lessons, or as it naturally comes up in conversation or activities, I will be teaching the children basic Spanish such as conversational greetings and vocabulary. Children will also be introduced to foreign languages from our international class pen/video-pals and during the month of March (World Cultures theme) when they will learn how to say “Hello” in 16 different languages! Yes, you read that right, and it is easier for children at this age group to absorb new languages than any other!
ESL (English as a Second Language) / Bi-lingual Speakers
English language learners often struggle to keep up with their peers initially because they are concurrently trying to understand and respond to teacher instruction and peer social queues. Though we introduce the children to conversational Spanish and practice it daily, instruction is taught primarily in English, which will give your English language learner the practice he or she will need for elementary school. However, at no time will anyone discourage or demean your child when they use their primary language.
Instead, we will encourage reciprocal communication between your child and all others. If your child is struggling to say a word in English or just defaults to their natural language, we ask the child to teach us what they are saying and then teach the child the English translation. Cultural exchange of language is a value to society that is priceless! I am a native English speaker, but I learned so much about my own language and linguistic traditions after learning both Spanish and French!
We collaborate with parents to develop both primary language skills and English. This is always an individualized plan and incorporated into your child’s academic goals. Please contact us for more details.