BEST STARTS FOR KIDS
Why Introduce Text Early
Text is used in almost every aspect of our lives and our children are exposed to it from a very young age. For example: driving a car, creating recipes, buying groceries, even choosing which program on the T.V. requires using text.
It's likely if you have a two or three year old they're already well aware of specific symbols.
For example the gigantic 'M' for McDonalds or the STOP of a Stop sign.
But it's possible without too much effort to increase your children's awareness of symbols and text in their environment so they start looking for examples, themselves.
And it didn't matter to me how accurate they were. I tried to identify any straight lines, or circles that I could comment on as being part of the fundamentals we use in writing real words. Look at how many combinations of circles and straight lines there are in this piece of text
It was amazing that because there was a purpose to writing and there was something in it for them,
how motivated they were to create their own lists.
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2. Having your children to make a guess as to what they think a sign could say, or what a symbol could mean, is a great way of helping them to realize text contains meaning.
STOP signs are a great sign to begin with because they are bright and your car has to stop for them.
Did you know for example that around 50% of every piece of writing uses some of the same 100 words.
(Some of these high frequency words are marked here in bold to illustrate what I am talking about. They are what we call high frequency words.)
I've devised some fun reading games so you can find out and practise these high frequency words with your child. There are also some Assessment sheets you can take a screen shot of and print off.
And they're all free. Look at the end of this article for links.
Even very young children will be able to identify symbols and logos of specific programs they would like to watch on streaming services.
Ideas to Help Develop Literacy Skills
If you look at some of the packaging in your home you'll notice there will be text on most of it.
Cereal boxes, taco shells, canned foods, sauces, honey, peanut butter, Vegemite, toothpaste, shampoos, etc all have labels with words written on them.
1. You may like to let your children cut out logos or labels from some of the packaging and make their own book that they can read themselves.
Prior to school age I let my children look at different labels on some of our grocery items while I was compiling my shopping list. They were encouraged to write out their own shopping lists by modelling the labels and I let them buy the things that were on them.
3. Let your child expand upon their knowledge of say STOP signs to view an example like that of the bike. What do they think that symbol could mean?
4. When you're driving the car ask them to focus on one specific type of signage per trip such as STOP signs, street signs, bus stops, speed signs, roadwork, etc. They can count how many they can find.
Alternatively if you're walking around a city, take photographs of how many different types of signs you can find on your journey.
If you download the photos from your walk you could use this to make a book of signs that your child can read.
It's amazing how much environmental text there is once you start looking.
Or your children can locate symbols for amenities while shopping.
6. Maps are fantastic for children to locate and identify symbols. There's usually a key on the bottom left hand corner illustrating what specific symbols they're looking for.
There are symbols for petrol stations, toilets, cycle ways, ambulance, police and fire stations; boat ramps, bus stops, playground, caravan parks, parking areas, hospitals, churches, golf courses, shopping centres, hospitals, even horse riding facilities.
Let your child find what symbols they can. And maybe they can make up some of their own.
And sometimes advertising reinforces the words with images so your child can guess what the words might say.
5. Using a GPS or satellite navigation system allows your child to see a representation of exactly where they are. And it not only uses symbols, but words as well.
This can be a great way of highlighting symbols to represent specific buildings such as churches, entertainment facilities, toilets, etc.
And many symbols are reinforced with words as well.
7. If you're walking around a city look for taxis and discuss how we know they're taxis,
Look for other examples of advertising signage.
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Advertising is great to illustrate the use of text because it uses short messages and bold lettering
to attract an audience. You might begin to look at the beginning letters of particular words and highlight them. 'S' is good for a beginning letter because it looks like a snake. 'M' is also good because it is very different to 'S' and it is the beginning of the word Mum.
8. Stations are great places for the display of text.
Signage depicting rules are usually displayed inside trains and there are usually visual symbols to reinforce the message.
And there is usually a multitude of text either on platforms or surrounding walkways. For example: Exit signs, stairs, lifts, toilets, station names, timetables, etc. And many stations also contain a significant amount of advertising as well.
9. Children are also readily able to use phones, tablets and computers from around three years of age for short periods of time.
I recall my youngest son trawling through a complex computer program called Dangerous Creatures at the age of three. Not only did he seek out the games but he loved learning the new information it offered and would frequently share it with us.
It's important to note that while I believe technology is a great tool to use with children, it's not however ideally used for periods of time in excess of twenty minutes or so at a time.
I recall reading research that indicated higher levels of aggression in children exposed to screen times of twenty minutes or more in one go which may be worth considering, especially if your child wants a screen available in their own room for them to self-manage.
Children need to interact with the real world to develop all of the skills necessary for them to live full and meaningful lives and ideally be involved in some structured activities where they interact socially with others.
With the range of electronic devices available, children can be electronically sedated for a great deal of time and from my experience children who, for example, spend a lot of time playing video games, appear more fidgety and have greater difficulty concentrating, without high levels of stimulation.
RESEARCH: Recent research below reinforces what I've observed over years:
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Go to links below to learn more about introducing text and developing positive behaviours in your children:
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