Language development is a critical part during the early stages of childhood.
It aids in your child’s communication skills with the ability of expressing and understanding feelings, thinking, problem solving, and forming and maintaining relationships. The basis for learning how to read and write, requires a child to understand, use and enjoy the language.
At Little Scholars we support the development of language through various ways starting from the Kittens all the way to the Lions.
In the Bunnies and Kittens (1-2 and 2-3 year olds) the foundation is built for saying sentences which use nouns, verbs and adjectives correctly. This is done through singing songs, listening to stories, naming colours and shapes, and theme based learning. Exposing children to music and stories during early development helps them learn the sounds and meanings of words. Theme based learning exposes the children to real life topics, an example would be ‘The Farm.’ In this theme they would learn about all the many things that are related to the farm. Learning about real life topics builds a deeper understanding of their surroundings and enables them to learn and comprehend new vocabulary.
The Jolly Phonics programme plays a huge role for language development at Little Scholars. The programme uses the sounds of the letters rather than the alphabet and consists of 42 sounds. There are 5 steps in the Jolly Phonics programme which are the following:
- Learning the letter sounds: Children are taught 42 letter sounds, which is a mix of alphabet sounds (1 sound – 1 letter) and digraphs (1 sound – 2 letters) such as sh, th, ai and ue. Using a multi-sensory approach each letter sound is introduced with fun actions, stories and songs.
- Learning letter formation: This is taught alongside the introduction of each letter sound. Typically, children will learn how to form and write the letters down during the course of the lesson.
- Blending: Once the first few letter sounds are learnt, children begin blending the sounds together to help them read and write new words.
- Segmenting: When children start reading words, they also need to start identifying the phonic components that make the word sound the way it does. By teaching blending and segmenting at the same time children become familiar with assembling and breaking down the sounds within words.
- Tricky words These are words with irregular parts, such as ‘who’ and ‘I’. Children learn these as exceptions to the rules of phonics. Introducing the common tricky words early in the year increases reading fluency (as they frequently occur in those first simple sentences you might expect them to read).
The first set is briefly introduced in the 3rd term of the Kittens class and later covered in more depth in the Crocodiles (3-4 years). Learning the sounds first enables the child to blend letters together when developing reading skills. The uses of songs, actions and stories enhances speech and allows them to correlate the sound to objects.
Once the children are confident in identifying sounds, we begin blending and segmenting the sounds together in 2’s and 3’s known as CV (consonant and vowel) and CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words. This usually happens in the Giraffes, Elephants and Lions (4-6 years).
Tricky words also known as sight words are taught alongside the sounds startings with simpler words and then intensifying.
This method of learning to read and write has proven to be extremely effective.
Guided reading is another programme we follow at Little Scholars. The programme uses small groups of children to follow and read a book together. It allows children to apply the reading strategies they already know to new text as they focus on meaning but also use problem-solving strategies to figure out words they don’t know, deal with difficult sentence structures, and understand concepts or ideas they have never seen in print before. This method of reading together boosts the children’s cognitive skills as well as their day to day vocabulary and encourages them to read independently with confidence.
Story Time is a daily ritual throughout Little Scholars. Once the story is read, we explore the questions ‘Who? What? Where? When? Why? And how?’ Questioning the children on what they heard builds a greater understanding and challenges their cognitive skills. It allows children to question and understand their day to day surroundings as well.
In the Lions class (5-6 years) language development takes place in much more depth. The children begin curating their own simple sentences using a variety of nouns, verbs, adjectives and punctuation. They are able to read fluently and write simple sentences unassisted.
What can you do at home?
There are many effective ways to encourage early language development in children. However, the best way is by constantly talking with your child about things that interest them. Follow your child’s lead as they show you what they’re interested in by waving, pointing, babbling or using words.
Speak to your child about what’s happening in your daily lives, you can narrate what you’re doing as they correlate words to what they see. The key is to use lots of different words and in different contexts. For example, you can talk to your child about an orange tree and about cutting up an orange for lunch. This helps your child learn the meaning and function of words in their world. It doesn’t matter if your child doesn’t understand, because understanding will grow as your child develops.
Read to your child as often as possible. Reading is key when laying the foundation of language development. This is because reading lets your child hear words in different contexts, which helps with learning the meaning and function of words. While reading aloud to your child, point to the words as you read them. This shows your child the link between written and spoken words, and helps your child learn that words are distinct parts of language. Discuss the characters and pictures in the book.
Question your child on who, what, where, when, why and how. Be sure to give them a chance to comprehend and answer. These are important concepts for developing literacy.
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