Early childhood occurs before the age of eight, and it is during this period that a child goes through the most rapid phase of growth and development. Their brains develop faster than at any other point in their lives, so these years are critical for Early Literacy.
Languages have a deep impact on a child’s career. The more limited a child’s experiences with language and literacy the more likely he or she will have difficulty learning to read. The foundations for their social skills, self-esteem, perception of the world, and moral outlook are established during these years, as well as the development of cognitive skills.
Literacy development starts early in life and is highly correlated with school achievement. All children are born ready to learn the language to communicate with the significant people in their lives. A growing and convincing body of research states that high-quality early childhood education can improve the educational achievement of children from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds and help to reduce this achievement gap between children of diverse backgrounds by the time they enter kindergarten.
According to leading Academicians and Early Literacy Scientists, Alphabet is fundamental for learning to read. Without a firm knowledge of letters, children will have difficulty with all other aspects of early literacy. However, teaching any language should not begin with a sudden, formal immersion into the printed word.
Why Developmentally Appropriate Practices are Important?
Human beings have always been born to learn, but not born to read. This means as we undertake the task to train the brain to learn to read, the brain’s existing neural circuitry adapts itself to support the requirements of this new task. Unlike our five basic senses, proficiency in reading must be taught and learned.
Millions of kids study languages yet fail to achieve language proficiency, mainly due to a lack of comprehensible input, proper orientation, or both. The impact of poor early literacy is visible in under-developed and most developing countries like India, according to various reports, primary school students in these countries are still struggling with basic literacy. Therefore, there is an urgent need for teaching early literacy using developmentally appropriate brain-compatible tools and practices.
Preschool is a child’s first formal learning environment. All children should have access to developmentally appropriate brain-compatible early childhood programs with strong literacy components that include clear adaptations for children with special needs. Therefore, it is beyond doubt that there is a need for increased emphasis on strengthening early literacy during pre-nursery classes within Primary schools.
What is the role of Developmentally Appropriate Tools in Teaching Alphabet?
Physical Alphabet tools such as Pegboards, play a dominating role in teaching alphabet to kids. In real life, letter A can be either Apple, Ant, Airplane. However, all present-day alphabet pegboards across the world can teach only teach static content which promotes rote learning.
Teaching letters of the alphabet in isolation, or memorization without understanding, is to be avoided. Reading corners/class libraries may be developed to provide children relevant, illustrated, and age-appropriate children’s literature in English and home language.
The teacher should observe children for assessment when they are engaged in activities, keeping in mind differently-abled children as well. Developmentally appropriate practices require brain-compatible practices that will help to fast-track adapting the neural circuits to acquire language learning.
What are the Developmentally Appropriate Practices You Can Adopt, To Teach Languages To 03-06 Years Age Group?
The practices you may consider assisting the children in the English language learning in 03 – 6 years age group.
- Introduce alphabet letters to children in a way that they are represented with a range of images experienced by the child. The more the child learns from his own experience, the faster the child will learn.
- Customization helps children to learn language in a personalized and immersive way, look for ways to introduce language in a fun and engaging way.
- Children can learn multiple languages with no screen time. Therefore, try to keep children away from screens as much as possible.
- Engage in playful activities and tools, explore ways to promote fine motor skills, creativity, brain development & cognitive skills.
- Parental engagement and socioemotional development among children bears a strong influence in building early literacy, reading readiness and enhancing language skill through’ expanding vocabulary, innovative ideas are welcomed to promote home-school connection.
Creating a healthy language learning environment is demanding. This requires the participation of one and all. The role of parents, teachers and developmentally appropriate practices is fundamental to shaping early literacy skills and language acquisition among young children.