Teaching literacy in preschool is a huge task, so I’m going to be completely honest with you; there is no way I can answer this question in one blog post, which is precisely why I wrote this book; Setting The Stage for Rock-Star Readers.
I love literacy; I love helping children as they discover letters, and words, and the joy of a great book. What I want to make clear is that this book is not about forcing preschoolers to read, it is about providing tools for teachers to make it easier to help each child along their unique journey towards literacy. Here is a quote from the books’ introduction that I hope sets the stage for what type of book it is:
“Step into an early childhood classroom and you will find toddlers who have been drilled on the alphabet at home, preschoolers whose parents enthusiastically read to them every day, and youngsters who have never been read to until they walk into the classroom.
As teachers, we open our arms wide and welcome all these children, even as we mentally take note of their diverse abilities. Then it hits us—in order to reach every single one of these wonderful kids, we need a huge reservoir of developmentally appropriate activities. Because in an early childhood classroom, ability is anything but uniform.
Every early childhood educator wants to support his or her children’s literacy learning, but many aren’t exactly sure how or even when or where to place this kind of instruction into the day. It’s particularly difficult nowadays because teachers—and children—often face unrealistic and unfair expectations.”
My co-author -and reading specialist- Amy Mascott of Teachmama.com and I worked hard to incorporate what research tells us about reading; with what we know about classrooms, teachers, and the need for play in early childhood education into one easy to read book made for busy teachers.
We know from research that reading must be explicitly taught. However, that doesn’t mean it needs to be taught in age or developmentally inappropriate way; in fact, because it needs to be explicitly taught is an argument to make sure it is done so in developmentally appropriate and engaging ways. Literacy is not one thing; speaking, listening, writing and reading all combine to create this foundation and in the book, we offer 75 tips to help develop a strong foundation in these skills playfully while respecting your students’ individual abilities and interests.
We know from our own experience in classrooms that teachers need a vast toolbox of ideas because sometimes plan A, B, or even G has failed even though they worked perfectly last week. That is why we have included only activities that have worked for us over and over — learning center ideas that engage even the youngest students, small group lessons that center around the learner, not the adults, and simple ways for a teacher to make his or her classroom more literate today.
One of the things we know about preschool teachers is that many of us weren’t trained for this job. I wasn’t when I started. When I walked into my first PreK class, I’d had years of experience with this age group but not in an M-F all day role. My degree was in elementary, and I had some strong ( and wrong) ideas about literacy instruction. I simply didn’t have a full view of what a developmentally appropriate early childhood classroom looked like and my strategy of “dumbing down” elementary lessons soon failed. I dove into the research, I talked to colleagues, and I learned how to build strong foundations for literacy in ECE. Now, I want to share it with you.
I don’t want to leave you without anything to take away from this post so I’ll share what I think are the most important things you can do as a preschool teacher to boost literacy in your classroom:
- Talk with your students. Every day have a conversation while playing. Model good listening, model a varied vocabulary, and connect.
- Make books ( tons of books) as accessible as possible – include them in learning centers, have shelves accessible even for infants and young toddlers.
- Read to your students daily, and talk about what is happening in the book as you do.
It takes much more than those three things to set the stage for rock-star readers but on the worst day, where everything is going sideways, and you find yourself asking ” Why is this wet?” more times than you thought possible, know that if you have done those three things, your day has not been a complete loss.
Get your copy of my new book here —> ORDER BOOK HERE
If you are interested in having me speak to your staff or community group about this book, literacy in ECE, or several other topics in early childhood education pop over to my speaker page to learn more.