**This post is a day late, and I apologize! I have been scrapbooking like crazy over the past couple of days, completing two very important projects. (That, in addition to being a mommy to four children!) Anyway, I am happy to say that my two scrapbooks are finished!! So here is yesterday's post!**
Remember the last time you saw your toddler or preschooler sit down with a book and proceed to study the illustrations and describe them aloud?
Did you know that your child was actually reading?
Early literacy, also called emergent literacy, begins the moment you share that first book with your child. Little by little, your child begins to piece together the patchwork of reading, and each step in the process is equally valuable and essential. As your child learns that the printed word carries a message, he or she naturally wants to explore all aspects of reading! This early desire is a crucial building block of the literacy process and will unfold throughout every minute your child spends with a book. Besides providing access to plenty of books and regularly reading aloud your child, your most important job at this point is to help him or her feel confident when reading.
**For clarification purposes, emergent literacy refers to children from birth through about age six.**
So...how can you help build your emergent reader's confidence?
You naturally know how to help your child grow in other areas of life, and you most likely are doing a fantastic job in this realm as well!! However, these few suggestions may simply boost what you are already doing.
- Respect your emergent reader. This means allowing your child to freely read aloud picture books at his or her own pace using his or her own words. Resist the urge to correct your child - he or she needs no correction at this point! The only time I would advise intervening here would be if your child was holding the book upside-down. Gently show by example how to hold the book properly.
- Praise your child for reading! Tell your child how nice his or her voice sounds, how carefully he or she turns pages, or how much you enjoy listening to him or her read.
- Ask questions about the books your child reads. By showing interest in the story your child chooses, he or she feels validated and worthwhile about his or her reading choice.
- Resist any and all urges to refer to an emergent reader as "pretending" to read. This completely undermines the effort and work your child is putting into the literacy process. Early stages of reading are defined by general knowledge and understanding of books and stories, rather than correct pronunciation, alphabet / word recognition, or phonics.
Your emergent reader will delight you with his or her natural eagerness to learn, and you have the wonderful job of encouraging your child's innate thirst for knowledge. Your child will thrive on your respect for their timetable of literacy growth.
Enjoy the time with your emergent reader!