Writing is something all children engage in even before most adults recognize their work as writing. Remember that scribbles are the first stages of the writing process for developing minds. So providing materials that children have easy access to for writing is a must. Once children know where the writing materials are and what they can use, all you have to do is step back and see what transpires. Many creative stories come from children allowed to follow their own ideas.
With smaller spaces to go along with small class sizes, I can be as flexible as I need to be with writing areas. I’ve mentioned this many times before, but I’ve always incorporated learning the alphabet through sign language, so it is natural to put the two together. This way I have two areas focussed on literacy meeting the needs of an age and developmentally diverse classroom. Children three to four can continue to practice their scribble to symbolic form. While children four to five can continue to express their knowledge thus far of symbolic form with letters, numbers and character drawings.
The reading corner is kept small to enable children some alone time or time to converse with one other friend. This keeps the socialization factor strong in this area and supports the development of longer attention spans. Strong friendships can emerge when there are smaller areas because children’s minds are not being divided into several small columns trying to pay attention to many friends. An area enabling more focus to be put on the attention and time given to one friend allows for deeper socialization to transpire. And conversing with a friend often leads to many joys of sharing much loved and over-read stories! 🙂
For inspiration placing a picture, portrait or even a book near the easel area is one way to encourage more literacy growth. When a child is inspired or has their own ideas for what they wish to create through painting, it often can be a work encouraged to continue through some questions. If we want to see and hear more about what a child’s painting represents in any given moment we can encourage dialogue, write their words for them, and help them shape the ideas they have into meaningful experiences that were actually lived or imaginary stories waiting to burst out of their creative souls! This is another very flexible area in terms of what to display and how interactive this particular space can be. Following the interests of children and seeing where to challenge them keeps each interest area in the classroom as a “third teacher”.
A keyboard is another great way to encourage literacy growth, and to support children’s desire to understand letter and number symbols. Keyboards have letters, numbers, and symbols that are static, so each time a child presses the keys the keys stay the same. As he/ she begins to recognize the letters in their names and other words each uses daily, the keyboard supports this learning due to the keys never changing. The letters, numbers, and symbols can be counted on as a steady constant, a static learning tool supporting their early literacy development. The keyboard is also a common tool they see people interacting with daily unless you are a phone user only. And the keyboard itself can become a part of their imaginary stories. Children’s imaginations are not stifled by the brick walls us adults have put up. Remember children are uninhibited with their learning and imagination as opposed to us adults that often have to break down barriers to keep our minds open and creative.
My summer bean growth experiment is another example of how literacy can be brought into learning naturally. Having a growing plant inside the classroom opens discussions each day and with the plant changing so quickly the discussions can become very detailed. Writing down the children’s thoughts, ideas and questions keep them interested and learning new information. Combining literacy, science, math and yes social studies all through this experiment can be natural in a preschool environment. As I list the many learning benefits keep in mind how the project approach is such a useful and developmentally appropriate framework for teaching and learning. The list includes modeling writing, scribing words, asking questions, repeating dialogue, reading stories related to the plant growing, graphing the growth, counting the leaves, flowers, and beans, recognizing the color differences, gaining experience with time such as days, weeks and months, learning how communities and families can come together while growing food, are all wonderful aspects of how one plant can bring so much information to young minds.
Preschool is a magical place to begin your child’s school career. Let your child engage in quality learning while attending a preschool that truly places him/her first. The Marigold School of Early Learning came about because I wanted to provide children with a safe, happy, calming and inspiring place to experience many of their first guided learning interactions! You won’t find obnoxious, loud and wasteful time being spent at this Reggio Emilia inspired space. I respect children and want them to all be happy and healthy as they grow and learn! By guiding their learning for understanding in a way that truly respects each as creative and intelligent people, each will learn that they can spend time contemplating the things they see, hear and experience. There won’t be any unnecessary interruptions placed on their learning time because each will learn how to listen to and respect each other. Please join my small community and support your child’s thirst for knowledge! 🙂
Heidi Scott, BA & MIT
The Marigold School of Early Learning! 🙂