Today, January 27, is Family Literacy Day!
It marks the occasion where families come together to improve their reading and writing skills.
It’s a time to raise awareness of the importance of literacy.
It’s an opportunity for each family member to become better readers and writers, and help others to do the same.
Family Literacy Day was created by ABC Life Literacy Canada in 1999 to promote the joy of life-long learning.
It’s never too late for anyone to improve their skill level in reading or writing. But it’s best if such a process starts early, hence the importance of early literacy!
Sprig Language was created to help early learners achieve the fundamental milestones of literacy, beginning with oral language and leading to foundational reading and writing behaviours.
What sets Sprig Language apart from any other early literacy program is that it supports learning both inside the classroom, and at homes with families.
It is ideally suited for early learning, as it naturally takes into account a child’s learning process, and their daily interactions with everyone in the home and community.
Indeed, in a child’s developmental years, the mind is like a sponge. Young learners absorb every bit of information, whether they interact with their:
Uncles, aunts, cousins
The Four Rules to Drive Early Literacy
It’s important that early literacy development is a joint effort between all of the people and programs involved.
When it comes to something as pivotal to future success as early literacy, there are certain rules that make a big difference.
These guidelines help give early literacy activities a shape and structure. They also help to combine the people, the process and technology into one neatly blended learning experience.
These four rules are integral in ensuring that early learners are set up for future success.
Literacy opens the doorway to knowledge, where success is not limited to academics, but social and emotional success as well, where students undergo holistic development.
When crafting an early literacy strategy, keep these 4 rules in mind. All are golden, so they are listed in no particular order.
Rule Number 1— Use Recommended Duration Time for Planning
Setting aside dedicated time to focus on activities that develop listening, speaking, reading and all other literacy skills is essential. Often, if it’s not scheduled, it doesn’t get done in a meaningful way.
To make planning easier, Sprig activities highlight estimated durations for activities (see below).
The time mentioned for each activity lets the educator, or parent, know approximately how long each learning activity is expected to take.
Practice makes perfect, and practice requires dedicated time.
Rule Number 2— Build a Literacy Rich Environment
A literacy rich environment is one that includes sufficient educational materials and resources, both print and digital.
When a young learner is surrounded by engaging and attractive resources, they are inspired! Resources can include material such as books, alphabet cards, writing exercises, cutouts to decorate classrooms that teach certain concepts, etc.,
Furthermore, given the age we live, it’s important to foster some level of digital literacy. One way this can be done is by having apps and animated versions of storybooks, which stimulate more of the senses like audio to build literacy.
When an early learner finds themselves in an environment that is designed to promote literacy, they learn faster.
Sprig Learning educational materials are both on- and off-screen. The platform is for assessment, instructional support and classroom management, but it’s the many wonderful digital and physical learning materials that enrich the classroom environment!
Above is a thought bubble resource sheet that is available for download under the Sprig Language platform.
There are hundreds more printable assets available through the program which allow educators to engage the classroom and develop lessons as recommended by the digital platform.
Rule Number 3— Be Consistent in What You Teach (Training and Application)
The Center for American Progress, an independent nonpartisan policy institute, says that “the advancement of literacy as a national priority has been inconsistent.” There is a need for targeted funding to low-income schools with a high concentration of students in poverty.
It’s not fair to isolate the US in this lack of uniform planning for literacy improvements. It’s the same case throughout the world. In a recent study from Alberta, Canada, students from Grade 1 to 3 were 8 to 12 months behind their reading level.
More alarming is the fact that 3 out of 4 students who do not overcome their reading difficulties by Grade 3, struggle with lifelong learning.
In the US, out of the 32 states that have the science of reading as a requirement to be licensed as an elementary school teacher, only 21 require rigorous demonstration of such knowledge by testing all five components of scientifically based reading instruction.
The 5 components are: awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.
There is a great opportunity for professional development (PD) to include these components, which happens through training. Equally, there is an opportunity to use tools that are built to help students master these different essential reading skills.
Without such tools, teaching still happens, but there is a lot more room for improvisation as to picking the best evidence-based activities suited to building pronunciation, word recognition, etc.
With a tool that is already optimized to work on all these areas, the PD finds an immediate outlet through which it can have the greatest impact. Sprig Language was developed to work on a young learner’s phonological skills, pragmatics, syntax, morphological skills and vocabulary.
To use an analogy, think of a car.
Defensive driving is a technique. This is fantastic in theory, and those trained in defensive driving can make the claim to being safer drivers.
But when actually driving, if the car is not equipped with airbags, or snow tires in the winter, the theory is not held to its highest standard.
The design and features of the car also have to be appropriate for a safe driving experience.
In this analogy: The act of driving is teaching. Defensive driving is PD for early literacy. And the snow tires or air bags are platforms that support early literacy.
Thus, both training and tools are important in the application of teaching methodologies that work best to develop early literacy.
Rule Number 4— Partner with Parents (or Others Involved in the Child’s Education)
In light of Family Literacy Day, reading can be so much more fun when family members are engaged in the process.
But aside from being fun, it’s a great way to ensure that learning continues to happen outside of the classroom. Significant brain development happens from two to seven years of age. So it’s important to maximize learning inputs during this time.
Holistic learning makes use of the fact that learning insights are captured equally in the school, in the home and in the community.
Parents are busy, but there are ways to be actively involved in a child’s education.
Just as a student is informed in school about all the reading resources that are available to them, parents should also be aware. There are apps available for download that provide access to high-quality reading materials.
To help bridge the communication divide between educators and parents, Sprig Learning programs have parent or caregiver surveys that help educators get a perspective of the learning that occurs at home.
Below is an example of how caregiver accounts can be linked to the learning portal of a student.
Educators are able to use the same learning portal to share student progress with caregivers or parents.
The Cheat Code
These 4 golden rules are incredibly powerful for early literacy development. It helps to have a summary statement that combines all of them into one effective adage.
Educators can take this one-liner away from this article.
Consistently schedule time to teach specific literacy skills in a resource-rich environment, in partnership with parents and caregivers.
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If you have questions about implementing the right programs for early literacy development, please contact us.