Appropriate Literacy Activities
Preschool children may be too young to read, but they should be read to and participate in discussions about the materials they are read. All of this is necessary for the early development of language and literacy skills. But what is the appropriate manner in which to carry out such literary activities? Here are some appropriate guidelines for preschool caretakers and teachers:
*Make reading a daily part of the lives of your preschool charges by reading to them everyday from storybooks and what are known as big books, large-sized books with many pictures and items of interest that can be seen from a short distance.
*Make children a part of the experience by allowing them a chance to choose the stories to be read at storytime.
*Pause where appropriate to encourage a child to fill in a rhyme or recite their favorite parts of a story. For instance, you might read, "Old McDonald had a ___."
*Be attentive when children pretend to read out loud from a book when in reality, they are supplying the words from their memory. This encourages them in their attempts at independent reading by making them feel you are their audience.
*Allow sufficient time to answer a preschooler's questions about the reading material.
*Use the PEER sequence to generate questions and discussion. PEER stands for:
P—parent or other adult begins to speak about a book
E—evaluates a child's response
E—expands on the child's response
R—repeats the original question to make sure the child has understood the new idea
For instance, if you were to read Ferdinand to your child, you might have the following conversation:
Adult: What is Ferdinand doing?
Child: Sitting down.
Adult (evaluating and expanding on the child's response): Yes, he's sitting down and smelling the flowers in all the lovely ladies' hair.
On completion of the story, you might look through the book with the child and at the place where Ferdinand is sitting, the conversation might continue as follows:
Adult: What is Ferdinand doing? Do you remember?
Child: Sitting down and smelling the flowers.
Adult (evaluates and expands): You're right, the flowers that are in all the lovely ladies' hair.
Adults should ask open-ended questions to help motivate discussion and enable the child to focus on the main ideas in the story.