Be Child Care Aware: Reading To Children Helps Develop Important Literacy Skills

Cheri M. Gioe, Merrill, Thomas A.  |  4/30/2005 1:22:21 AM

It's more than storytelling. Reading aloud to children strengthens their auditory and visual discrimination and helps them to develop phonemic awareness and letter-sound relationships and patterns.

News You Can Use For May 2005

Literacy activities are an important part of any early childhood curriculum, stresses LSU AgCenter child-care associate Cheri Gioe, who says introducing children to literacy occurs in many ways.

"For example, young children are exposed to literacy when caregivers and parents include them in such activities as singing, doing finger rhymes, playing with puppets, reading stories or poems, listening to story tapes, labeling, writing and speaking – just to name a few," Gioe explained.

The LSU AgCenter expert also points out that the foundation for their oral language emerges when young children are allowed to participate in such literacy activities.

"Rich experiences with print and other forms of literacy material strengthen children’s listening and speaking abilities, allowing them to develop confidence, and helping them to increase their vocabulary and sentence use," she said.

Research shows that once oral language emerges, children begin to develop a love of literature and enjoy reading.

"They also begin to develop a sense of story – for example, that stories have a beginning and end," Gioe explains, adding, "They develop basic book knowledge, such as that books open left to right, have a top and a bottom and that pages turn. And they learn that print has meaning."

Experts say reading aloud to children strengthens their auditory and visual discrimination and helps them to develop phonemic awareness and letter-sound relationships and patterns.

"Once children have a solid grasp of oral language they begin to develop the foundations of independent reading and writing," Gioe says. "They begin to find joy in seeing themselves as a reader and/or writer and begin to understand that reading and writing have a variety of useful purposes."

Early childhood programs can introduce children to literacy in a variety of ways, and Gioe says one of the most important ways comes through stories.

"Caregivers often have several story times daily," Gioe explains, stressing, "Story times are most effective when the reader chooses a story they love themselves, tries to vary the mood and pace and invites the children to participate in the storytelling.

"Stories that are familiar help children to develop a sense of security in their environment. Stories also are an easy way to transition children from one activity to another and often allow children to participate in playful activities that involve language, physical movement and dramatic play."

The LSU AgCenter’s "Be Child Care Aware!" educational program is designed to educate parents and child-care providers about quality child care. It is funded, in part, through a contract with the Louisiana Department of Social Services’ Office of Family Support.

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Contacts: Cheri Gioe at (225) 578-6701 or cgioe@agcenter.lsu.edu
Editor: Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu

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