Early Literacy Skills— Sowing the Seeds of Reading Success in Young Children

Guest blog post by: Vivian Yau, Smile Speech Therapy 

kids-booksEarly literacy skills refer to what children know about reading and writing BEFORE they can actually read and write. Focusing on these skills in an interactive and fun way can set young children up to become successful readers as well as develop a love for reading.

Here are some ideas on how to target early literacy skills at home with your child:

bedtime-readPrint Motivation—enjoying and having fun with books
Find books that are interesting to your child and follow their lead as you share the book together. Make it engaging by using facial expressions, different voices, and acting out the book.

Vocabulary—the more words you know, the easier it is to read
Use specific words with your child and explain the meanings of words.

sisters-readNarrative Skills—re-telling stories and talking about events that happen
Encourage your child to pretend play and make up stories. Have your child tell about special events that happened to them (e.g., birthday party).

Letter Recognition—knowing that each letter has a name and has different sounds
Point out letters in the environment and talk about the sound that it makes. Talk about the letters in your child’s name.

boy-readingPhonological Awareness—hearing and playing with the sounds in words
Clap out syllables in words. Talk about the first sound in words and rhyming words.

Print Awareness—knowing that letters and words have meaning
Point out the words while reading books aloud. Point out print you see in the environment such as: road signs, food labels, store signs.

flyerIf you are interested in learning more strategies for targeting early literacy skills and seeing them in action, Smile Speech Therapy is offering a series of Language and Literacy Parent and Child Classes for 2 and 3 year old children.

Please contact us for more information and mention Mommy Connections for a discounted rate, by emailing: info@smilespeech.ca, or by calling: (416) 488 – 7807 

image1Vivian is a mother of 3 young boys with 14 years of experience helping children improve their speech and language skills. She is the founder of a new private practice called Smile Speech Therapy which provides in-home or in-clinic (Bayview/Eglinton) speech and language services to children in Toronto and the surrounding area.


Guest Blog Post by Liz Greene

With the 21st century in full swing, it’s becoming more and more apparent how important STEM skills will be in the future job market. With more than 8 million STEM jobs expected in the U.S. by 2018, it’s imperative we make sure our children are learning these critical skills. Of course, this is easier said than done. Or is it?

As a former preschool teacher, I have been witness to the amazing ability children have to learn through play. You wouldn’t think a set of coloured plastic bears would encourage the development of math skills, but damned if didn’t.

Since STEM skills have become a hot topic in education, a number of companies — such as Steve Spengler Science and GoldieBlox — have started offering a fantastic array of toys tailored to foster science, technology, engineering, and math skills. Toys such as these are some of the best tools you can give your children to give them a leg up in STEM education without boring them to tears. You can engage in guided play and provide some background lessons, or you can let them march to the beat of their own drum — either way, they’ll learn something new.

Alright, I know this one sounds like a stretch, but video games can actually help develop STEM skills. Believe it or not, teachers are actually implementing video games in the classroom for that very reason. But how?

If you think about the world of video games, you’ll find STEM everywhere.

If your children are gamers, get cozy and have a movie night featuring documentaries about video games. Get them excited about the nuts and bolts of their favorite games and consider enrolling them in a program where they can catch the programming bug.

Food is one of the greatest motivators I’ve ever seen. Two weeks ago I watched an office full of my peers rush to fill out insurance forms once they were told there would be a drawing for free lunch. The HR department can play us like a violin.

Food can be used to teach STEM skills in a number of way. You can grow a garden and utilize engineering, math, and science skills. You can whip up a delicious treat while exploring the chemistry and mathematics behind baking. You can do math with skittles, learn about crystal formation while making rock candy, and even build fantastic structures with gumdrops.

However you go about it, STEM education can be incredibly fun — and surprisingly easy. And believe me, your kids will appreciate your hard work.

Liz Greene is a writer and former preschool teacher from Boise, Idaho. She’s a lover of all things geek and is happiest when cuddling with her dogs and catching up on the latest Marvel movies. You can follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene

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