What Is Literacy In Preschool Children

2513 words - 11 pages

What is Literacy? According to dictionary.com, to be literate means to be able to read and write, to be well read or to have knowledge or skill in a specific field. Emergent literacy begins in the very early stages of childhood, and is the beginning of literacy development, involving such activities as 'reading' from pictures and 'writing' with scribbles. 'Reading' a book from memory while turning the pages of the book, develops a child's understanding of books and stories, as well as giving them a sense of accomplishment and pride, and is an important step towards becoming an independent reader. (Emerson, 2003). Even before babies begin to babble or say their first word, they are beginn ...view middle of the document...

(Ministry of Education, 1996). Using pictures and gestures often helps children to better understand what their caregivers are trying to communicate to them.Being literate allows us to maintain our cultural identity. Being literate allows us to be able to pass on our culture to others through reading, writing or telling stories, and allows others to gain an understanding of our cultural ways. Culture is very much an important part of who a person is, and should be an important part of every centre. It should affect the type of resources provided, and the environment of the centre. (http://www.dmmh.no/index.php?ID=468). TeWhāriki stresses the importance of an environment where children experience the stories and symbols of their own culture, and those of others, especially that "children develop an appreciation of Te Reo as a living and relevant language." (MoE, p.72, & p.76, 1996). Every early childhood centre in New Zealand should have a strong emphasis on the Māori language and culture, including stories, signs, arts, and experiences in their programme. It is important for young children in New Zealand to be able to speak and understand some basic māori words, such as toilet, eat, stop and listen, etc. Language is a large part of our culture, and Garcia (1983); Cardenas (1986); Zigler & Lang (1991); and Leon (1996) (as cited in Duarte and Rafanello, 2001), suggest that as teachers we should help children maintain bilingualism by encouraging them to first develop and speak their mother tongue, and helping them with their English later in their development. Teaching literacy in cultural ways helps to give the child a sense of identity and belonging, which is an integral part of TeWhāriki. Teachers should include children in small groups that are following instructions, so that they may be able to put meaning to words easier."Children learn through responsive and reciprocal relationships with people, places, and things." (MoE, p.14, 1996). Berger (2005), states that the best way for children to learn and master the skills they will need in later life, is to learn from and alongside their peers. Piaget believes that children make their own learning through exploration, imitation and repetition. In play, children practice their skills non-stop, reinforcing what they have learnt, and exploring new ways to do things. He also believed that children repeat things for a purpose. By repeating an activity over and over, they begin to learn, understand, and grasp new ideas and concepts. Vygotsky believed that children learn through social interactions with those around them who are more experienced. By modelling the actions of others, they learn new skills and gain confidence through the guidance and support of older children and adults alike. (Penrose, 1998). Your attitude toward literacy will be reflected in the way you teach, so it is important to model a positive attitude toward literature for young children and e...


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