Oct 23, 2013

Every Child Ready To Read~ Talking

Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR) is a national initiative from the American Library Association.  ECRR is a learning model to showcase skills and activities to help build literacy skills for young children.  We follow this model at the Grafton-Midview Public Library and would like to share some  activities and resources with you!  For more information on Every Child Ready to Read, here are some sites for you to peruse:
Ohio Every Child Ready to Read, Early Literacy Crosswalk offers a basic overview of what Every Child Ready to Read is all about.  They also have another site to discover the second edition of ECRR and sample activities for each skill and activity.

We don't want to overload you with information all at once, so each week we will focus on a new  activity outline in ECRR.  It seems like a no brainer that talking builds literacy skills, but it is a very important factor.  Talking helps children hear the sounds that make up words and sentences.  They can build their vocabulary and learn to use descriptive language.  By pausing for your child to respond you are giving him/her an opportunity to reflect and engage in meaningful interactions.
Reading if Fundamental has a selection of calendars for download so you can share activities with your child.  South Carolina State Library has calendars as well.  These activities are broken down by age group and are meant to be led by a parent or caregiver.  These activities run the gamut of being related to a specific book or even going on a scavenger hunt outside, but all of them can be related back to using language and verbal skills.

The online "Opinionator" section of the New York Times discusses the differing level and type of language used in homes in the article The Power of Talking. Due to parents coming from all different backgrounds and levels of education, comfort levels and access to language vary greatly.  This article discusses a study conducted by Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley at the University of Kansas, who in 1995 published a book, “Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children.”  Their research helped show the impact talking does have on a child's future success:
"Children whose families were on welfare heard about 600 words per hour. Working-class children heard 1,200 words per hour, and children from professional families heard 2,100 words. By age 3, a poor child would have heard 30 million fewer words in his home environment than a child from a professional family."  Arming yourself with this information can help you combat the gap in language early.
The Texas Children's Hospital has a blog post where they speak about creating opportunities to engage your young ones in conversation.   So much of your time parenting young children can be spent redirecting them, it may feel that you don't have a chance to have conversations beyond "Stop that," or "Get down!"  By retraining yourself to narrate your actions and the environment around you, you can build language and dialogue.  Parents magazine also speaks to the power of speaking with your baby in an online article, "Help Your Baby Learn to Talk".   By pausing for your baby to respond, even before they can talk back, you are creating an avenue of sharing and showing your baby that what they have to say is important. 
Another option for opening the doors to two-way communication early if signing with your young ones. has a great article on the benefits of signing as a form of talking with your baby or toddler before they can speak.  Building a stronger bond, reducing frustration, and helping to build motor skills are just a few of the ways talking and signing with your child can help.  If you feel that most of what you say goes in one ear and out the other, The Child Development Institute has a list of 20 Ways to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen

Some simple ways to begin encouraging talking would be to share books!  Even though readers are typically hearing stories, the way you present and share the content can allow for a back and forth.  Mo Willems does a great job allowing for responses from kids within his stories. Using wordless books, or books with only picture or very minimal text, would allow for children to use their language skills to create their very own stories. Wordless books also teach children how to construct a story using a beginning, middle, and an end.  David Wiesner has many titles that would qualify as wordless books.  One of my favorite wordless books is Chalk by Bill Thomson.  Books with only images and word labels help build language skills when you use adjectives to describe them and discuss when these objects are used or where they are typically found.  Do you have any favorite activities to get your kiddos talking?