From the Director:
Language Arts furnish the most important skills taught in Early Childhood Education. Speech and language use. Listening skills Reading readiness Writing ability These skills are taught in the context of Science, Social Studies, Math and Physical Education. Methods for teaching these skills should meet individual needs by introducing activities, ideas and materials appropriate for the children being taught. SPEECH The majority of speech defects in young children are not really defects but are aspects of speech in the process of development. They usually disappear with maturation. Activities for developing oral language: Finger plays Dramatization Flannel board Puppetry Pictures Records and Tapes LISTENING All lessons require listening. Children need to become accurate listeners. Suggestions to develop listening skills: Establish an atmosphere that is stimulating for doing and talking. Give accurate, clear and precise directions, explanations and examples. Be a good speech model in pronunciation and enunciation. Tell children the names of things they use or observe. Be a patient, courteous and attentive listener. Plan to introduce new words and their meanings. Activities for listening skills are the same as for oral language. READING All activities that require listening and/or speaking are readiness for reading activities. Development of reading readiness skills: Vision development - Visual skills do not develop equally or at the same time in all children. Gross difference discrimination - differences that are immediately obvious in like items. Recognition of similarities - Objects, persons and events that appear alike in size, shape, color, location and function. Picture recognition and interpretation: This extends the child's ability to associate meaning with visual stimuli. Sequencing of ideas: Putting events or the action part of a story in order. The order of occurrence in a personal experience can then be related. TEACHING THE ALPHABET Recognition, naming and forming the letters of the alphabet are all necessary skills to be attained before a child can write or read successfully. Reading is primarily a thinking process, activated by visual symbols. Reading is built on previous experiences and language skills the child already has and uses. Experiences with literature during early childhood are first steps in formulating later attitudes and interest in learning to read. NUMBER CONCEPTS Birth dates, time and quantity are all beginning math concepts. Number conservation and numerical symbols are recognized and experienced. The child's awareness of age, his practice with blocks and sizes of many in his grasp, are still more math experiences. Just as in alphabet teaching, number symbols are named and formed with imagery using numerous manipulative and games. WRITING Researchers agree that manuscript writing is the best form for beginning writing. Two basic strokes form capital and lower case letters and numbers: a straight line and a circle. Teaching manuscript to young children: Large muscles in the arm and small muscles in the hand must (Teaching manuscript, cont.) be developed through manipulative activities: use of pencils, crayons or brushes in many expressive ways. The teacher will use bold accurate letter forms. Activities that develop eye-hand coordination: puzzles, lacing, stringing, stacking, zippering, snapping and pounding. Activities for muscle development and eye-hand coordination can be used to develop the vocabulary necessary for manuscript writing. Skills and knowledge are constantly expanding in a child's learning. The Early Childhood program must contain many mediums for these foundational skills to expand and grow as the child builds his/her knowledge.