Fostering Language and Literacy Learning: Strategies to Support the Many Ways Children Communicate

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Early literacy instruction is receiving increasing emphasis. Many teachers of young children recognize that skills such as identifying and forming letters and practicing oral language skills are important (Helm & Katz, 2010). At the same time, teachers also report feeling pressure to focus on intensive drill and practice of isolated skills such as letter recognition (Jeynes, 2006). Framing early literacy learning as direct instruction of isolated skills typically results in a very narrow approach to learning to read and communicate clearly. In contrast to a narrow approach, National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) recommends a broad range of language and literacy experiences be provided for young children in early childhood programs. This article identifies ways teachers of young children can provide a range of language and literacy experiences and creates a meaningful context for explicit language and literacy instruction. It begins with a discussion of the relationship between culture and development that has informed recent understandings of early literacy. Four intentional teaching strategies--share personal stories, foster peer cross talk, vary group structures, and engage children in recording and representing their ideas--are described here. (Contains 1 table and 3 figures.)

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Dimensions of Early Childhood, v. 40, issue 1, p. 3-11