Teaching Our Youngest - Part 7

Here are some terms that you may encounter as you read more about early childhood education.

Alliteration The same consonant sounds at the beginning of words in a sentence or a line of poetry. For example, the sound of P in Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

Alphabetic principle The understanding that written letters systematically represent sounds. For example, the word big has three letters and three sounds.

Big books Oversized books that allow children to see the print and pictures as we read them.

Cognitive development Children's developing knowledge, skills, and dispositions, which help them to think about and understand the world around them.

Decoding The translation of the letters in written words into recognizable sounds and combining these sounds into meaningful words.

Emergent literacy The view that literacy learning begins at birth and is encouraged through participation with adults in meaningful literacy-related activities.

Environmental print Printed materials that are a part of everyday life. They include signs, billboards, labels, and business logos.

Explicit instruction Teaching children in a systematic and sequential manner.

Experimental writing Young children experiment with writing by creating pretend and real letters and by organizing scribbles and marks on paper.

Invented spelling Phonemic-based spelling where children create their own nonconventional spelling.

Letter knowledge The ability to identify the names and shapes of the letters of the alphabet.

Journals Writing books in which young learners scribble, draw, and use their own spellings to write about their experiences.

Literacy Includes all the activities involved in speaking, listening, reading, writing, and appreciating both spoken and written language.

Phonemes The smallest parts of spoken language that combine to form words. For example, the word hit is made up of three phonemes (h-i-t) and differs by one phoneme from the words pit, hip and hot.

Phonics The relationships between the sounds of spoken language and the individual letters or groups of letters that represent those sounds in written language.

Phonological awareness The ability to notice and work with the sounds in language. Phonological awareness activities can involve work with alliteration, rhymes, and seperating individual syllables into sounds.

Print awareness The knowledge that printed words carry meaning and that reading and writing are ways to obtain ideas and information. A young child's sensitivity to print is one of the first steps toward reading.

Scaffolded instruction Instruction in which adults build upon what children to per-form more complex tasks.

Sight vocabulary Words that a reader recognizes without having to sound them out.

Vocabulary The words we must know in order to communicate effectively. Oral vocabulary refers to words that we use in speaking or recognize in listening. Reading vocabulary refers to words we recognize or use in print.

Word recognition Using any one of a number of strategies such as recognition by sight or decoding so as to figure out their meaning.

What is Scientifically Based Reading Research?

Some federal programs may have a specific statutory or regulatory definition of this term. In general, scientifically based reading research includes concepts such as those below.

Scientifically based reading research uses scientific procedures to obtain knowledge about how young children develop reading skills, how children can be taught to read, and how children can overcome reading difficulties. Scientifically based reading research has the following characteristics:

1) It uses clear, step-by-step methods of gathering data. These methods involve careful observations and measurements. Often, experiments are used to gather information. For example, an experiment may compare how well children learn to read when they are taught in different ways.

2) It uses established, acceptable ways of measuring and observing. Let's say a researcher is trying to find which type of instruction best helps children learn the meaning of new words. The researcher must decide how to measure the children's word learning. Should the children just be asked whether they know the word? Should they be able to recognize the correct definition among several choices? Or, should they be able to use the new word correctly in their writing? The way the researcher chooses to measure word learning must be acceptable to other researchers as a good, or valid, measure of word learning.

3) It requires that researchers use established, acceptable ways of making sense of, or interpreting, the data they gather. Researchers must show that the conclusions they reach follow logically from the data they collected. Other researchers must be able to draw the same or similar conclusions from the data, and similar experiments must produce similar data.

4) It requires that several other researchers have carefully reviewed the report of the research. The report must include enough specific information about the research so that other researchers could repeat the research and verify the findings. These expert reviewers must agree that the research was done carefully and correctly and that the conclusions follow from the data. Usually, scientifically based reading research is published in professional journals and presented at professional meetings so that other researchers can learn from the work.

Scientifically based reading research provides the best available information about how you can help prepare the young children in your care for learning to read in school.

Here are some books that can provide you with more information about early childhood education.

Adams, M. J., B.R. Foorman, I. Lundberg, and T. Beeler (1997). Phonemic Awareness in Young Children: A Classroom Curriculum. Baltimore, Md.: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Anderson, R. C., E.H. Hiebert, J.A. Scott, and I.A.G. Wilkinson (1985). Becoming a Nation of Readers: The Report of the Commission on Reading. Champaign, Ill.: Center for the Study of Reading, Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Education.

Burns, M. S., P. Griffin, and C. Snow (Eds.). (1999). Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children's Reading Success. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

Dickinson, D. K. and P.O. Tabors (2001). Beginning Literacy with Language. Baltimore, Md.: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Hart, B. and T.R. Risley (1995). Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children. Baltimore, Md.: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

National Reading Panel. (2000). Teaching Children to Read: An Evidence-Based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading and Its Implications for Reading Instruction. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Neuman, S. B., C. Copple, and S. Bredekamp (2000). Learning to Read and Write: Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Young Children. Washington, D.C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Neuman, S. B. and D.K. Dickinson (2001). Handbook of Early Literacy Research. New York: Guilford Press.

Schickedanz, J. (1999). Much More than the ABCs. Washington, D.C.: NAEYC.

Snow, C. E., M.S. Burns, and P. Griffin (Eds.). (1998). Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

Adapted from U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Early Childhood-Head Start Task Force, Teaching Our Youngest, Washington, D.C., 2002.

Teaching Our Youngest - Part 6

The more you know about children's academic, social, and emotional development, the more able you will be to meet their needs. Information about how well the children are progressing helps you to plan your teaching. You want the children in your care to feel successful and confident, but you also want to offer experiences that will help them to develop further. In addition, through initial screening and by checking the children's progress, you can identify those children who need special help or who face extra challenges.

Here are some ways that you can keep track of children's progress:

  • Observe them daily. Watch as they play with each other, respond to your directions, participate in activities, and use language to communicate.
  • Collect samples of their drawings, paintings, and writing.
  • Keep notes about what they say and do.
  • Encourage them to talk about their own progress.
  • Regularly assess their progress so that your instruction will meet their needs.
  • Talk with parents and caregivers. Ask them what they have observed at home. Tell them about their children's strengths. Let them know about any concerns you may have.
  • Also, remember to talk often with the children about what they are doing. Be sure to focus on their strengths—what they can do and the progress they have made. This will help them build confidence and motivation for learning.

As a teacher, you and the children's parents and caregivers are partners in helping to get the children ready for future school success. Good communication with parents and caregivers can build support for and strengthen the important work that you are doing in the classroom.

It is important for you to communicate with parents and caregivers because:

  • They will have a better understanding of how you are helping to prepare their children for success in school.
  • They will learn how well their children are progressing in developing the building blocks of learning.
  • They will learn ways in which they can help their children at home.
  • You will have a better understanding of the background and experiences of the children.
  • The children will see that the adults in their life care about them and are interested in their learning and development.

Here are some ways that you can communicate with parents and caregivers:

  • Talk with them as they deliver and pick up their children.
  • Send home newsletters, notes, or e-mails to inform them of what their children are learning in your classroom.
  • Schedule regular meetings to let them know how their children are progressing—both the areas of strength and the areas that could use more support at home.

Teacher Talk

Jason's doing a great job of learning his letters. Maybe he can show you tonight how many he knows!
Amanda is having a little trouble talking about the stories that I've been reading to the class. It would probably help if you could ask her to talk about the stories you read to her at home. When you've finished reading a book, you could say something like, "Amanda, can you tell your teddy bear what that story was about?"
Encourage parents and caregivers to:

  • Talk with children during daily routines such as when riding in the car and during meal and bath times.
  • Help children to name objects in their environment (labeling).
  • Read and reread stories.
  • Recount experiences and describe ideas that are important to them.
  • Visit libraries and museums.
  • Provide opportunities for children to draw and print, using markers, crayons, and pencils.
  • Share ideas with them about activities that they can do at home to build on what you are doing in the classroom.

Teacher Talk

You can help Roberto practice his "R" and write his name and then together come up with other fun words that start with the letter "R."
Here's a book that Lucas was interested in today. It is about animals. Maybe you can go to the library and get another book about animals. You can also take this book and read it and talk about which animals he likes the best and why.
As you know, today we went on a field trip to the grocery store. Please, ask Maurice to tell you some of the things we did.
Invite parents and caregivers to visit your classroom.

Adapted from U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Early Childhood-Head Start Task Force, Teaching Our Youngest, Washington, D.C., 2002.

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