Friday, April 13, 2012

Literacy Development for Infants and Young Toddlers

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

Sometimes parents wish to know where they can buy certain things they see in their child's classroom. Their wish, one that teachers encourage enthusiastically, is to make a strong school to home connection for their child.

It is not always necessary to buy the exact things you see on the walls of your child's preschool classroom or in certain centres in your child's classroom but there are times when doing so has innumerable benefits. Two examples that will be highlighted in this post are alphabet charts and wooden blocks.

One of the primary focuses in preschool and kindergarten classrooms is literacy and developing children's ability to recognize print and understand that print conveys meaning. In the classroom, this is accomplished in a variety of ways and at home one simple way to help your child in his/her literacy development is to have an alphabet chart on the wall at your child's eye level.

It is not always easy to find alphabet charts that do not contain facial features in the pictures but don't let that stop you: make your own! Then invite and encourage your child to "read" the alphabet chart. First encourage recognition of the alphabet (and do not worry if they get the order wrong, this usually works itself out as the learning continues *smile*) and as your child progresses, invite them to read the words that identify the picture with each alphabet. It is not necessary that the child be able to actually read the words but soon they will begin to recognize certain words from the alphabet chart independently insha'Allaah.

You can also make up various games to play with Alphabet charts, "I Spy" is a simple, fun game that comes to mind but there are many other games as well. With young infants, you can sit with your child and point out certain pictures, saying each letter clearly, and describe the picture. Mention characteristics of the letters: is the letter tall, short and round, etc. The goal is to help your young child learn to take notice of the features of different letters and become aware of print in the environment and its role in our lives.

If making your own alphabet chart, keep in mind the things your young infant or toddler sees in his/her environment daily. Try to have pictures on the chart that represent concrete things in his/her world. Help your child see the connection by asking if they can find an object on the chart in the home (with infants, although they cannot answer you with words, still ask the questions - you are helping with their language and vocabulary development). Carry your infant around the house and point to different things one at a time and take him/her back to the chart to show them the item and the letter that it begins with. Express delight at how letters help us learn about our world. You can download the Alphabet Chart pictured above here insha'Allaah.

A second item that many parents have in the home are alphabet blocks.

For children learning in English, these are easily found in local toy stores and for children learning in Arabic or learning Arabic along side another language, these Arabic Alphabet Wooden Blocks can be a wonderful addition to your home environment insha'allaah.

Wooden alphabet blocks have numerous benefits, among them: the child is able to feel the shape of the letters long before he/she is able to write them. This helps develop pre-writing skills as well as build letter recognition skills. Wooden blocks also help children with spacial skills and other math skills that they will need upon entering school and throughout their school years. From a few months old, wooden blocks can be introduced to children and with supervision, children can begin reaping the benefits of this wonderful learning tool.

The Company that makes the Arabic Alphabet wooden blocks pictured above makes wooden blocks in a variety of languages: Russian, Italian, Spanish, Chinese and others!

If you already use these two learning tools in your home, please feel welcome to share with others some of the games you play and activities you use to help your child's literacy development.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Check it Out: Trucks, Trucks, Trucks

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

If you've a little one who can spend long minutes playing with trucks, trucks and more trucks, he may enjoy this book insha'Allaah.

The little boy in the story is asked to clean up his room which is scattered with construction trucks of every kind. He obediently does as his mother asks but infuses the clean up routine with a bit of his imagination. He doesn't just pick things up and put them away, he rolls over piles of toys with a truck that digs, he plows through a mess on the floor, he scoops up other toys on the floor until at last he is using a very big construction vehicle to lift up and put away the last item that needs to be cleaned up........a sock.

On each page, each truck and the word that describes what the truck does (i.e. dig, plow, sweep, roll, etc.) gets bigger and bigger. There are very few words in the book, in fact only a single word on the margin of most pages describes each trucks function, allowing children to focus on the action taking place in the picture.

The book is available in paper backhardcover and as a board book for infants and toddlers. So the next time you're at your local library, if you see Trucks Trucks Trucks check it out insha'Allaah!


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