Literacy-Enriched Environment & Classrooms
We believe in beginning to teach children to read when they are newborns!
Newborns, Infants, Toddlers
Our youngest students are first introduced to language through stories, songs, rhymes, and interactions with their peers and teachers. Our classroom toys, decor, and equipment is strategically designed to encourage positive social interactions, stimulate visualization, and create auditory experiences which lead to increased vocabularies in the future. The more words a child is exposed to at a young age, the easier it will be for them to recognize those words when they begin to read.
By incorporating peak-a-boo, pat-a-cake, nursery rhymes, lullabies, finger plays, and pictures throughout our classrooms, newborns, infants, and toddlers learn to imitate tones and rhythms of adult speech. They also learn to respond to gestures and facial expressions, make cooing and babbling sounds as their first introduction to rhythm. This also starts the association of words, the naming of objects in books, talking about characters in stories, understanding that pictures are symbolic of real things, scribbling with purpose (eventually leads to writing letters), and starting to notice and recognize their name in writing.
Our preschool classrooms expand upon the concepts developed in our newborn, infant, and toddler rooms in addition to introducing new reading readiness concepts. Increased rhyming, books on tape, flannel board stories, puppets, flashcards, phonics, alphabet awareness, memory games, singing, playing, doodling, sounding-it-out, and new letters and sounds enhance visual and auditory sensory experiences in order to prepare students to read.
The manipulatives center not only increases fine motor skills but also helps with pre-reading skills by offering hands-on skill building opportunities with patterns, sequences, grouping, counting, sorting, color recognition, visual perception, and more.
The sensory table allows students to trace letters with their fingers through various textures such as sand or shaving cream. Here they can also interact with magnetic letters, shapes, and numbers so they can learn how these symbols look and feel. The games and puzzles section includes syllable games, alphabet matching, opportunities for peer to peer interactions, and learning through play forum so students can master techniques with ease.
Alphabet trains and displays; labeled photos of students; and circle time which includes calendar, weather, and job assignments all contribute to the fundamentals of reading. The library provides a comfy spot for silent reading. When teachers read books repetitively aloud while the children point to pictures and words, children begin to associate the words with their meaning. Students also partake in literacy experiences as they place their felt or flannel pieces on the flannel board or dress up like a character in dramatic play and talk aloud.
Preschoolers begin to understand print carries a message and can then identify familiar signs and labels, participate in rhyming games, identify letters, and make sound matches. They even start to use letters in their doodling as they begin to write. They may try to write their names or other symbols that have dual meanings such as a heart to mean love or a stick figure to represent themselves.
Our pre-k students focus on upper and lowercase letters, phonetic awareness, pre-writing motor skills, sequencing, beginning blends of words (i.e. sn, br) ending sounds, vowels, trace and write, alphabet books, word families (i.e. brain, chain, drain, train, stain), charts, memory games, reading fluency and writing table activities. They also create picture associations, talk about reading, and finish reading sequences with their own versions of stories.
Having a literacy-rich environment entails words everywhere throughout the classrooms. Games are used to enhance social skills by teaching children to share, wait, take turns, and interact. Children are also encouraged to think aloud, to discuss classroom schedules, and are given opportunities to talk about their feelings and emotions to further enhance their vocabularies and can identify words have meaning. As teachers read aloud, Pre-K students deduce what is happening with different characters in the stories and begin to comprehend details. Children are consistently evaluated to assess their strengths and weaknesses with pre-reading concepts.
Our kindergarteners rely upon story strips, spelling bees, computers, word hunts, dictionaries, student displayed projects, and journaling to promote reading. Concepts which were introduced in previous classrooms are modified and enhanced to ensure ongoing curiosity and developmental appropriateness at each age level. Literacy-rich signage and decor includes classroom rules, directions, menus, word walls, and job assignments, to name a few. Games that promote reading include Pictionary, Scrabble, Boggle, Bingo, etc.
By age 5, most kindergartners: sound like they are reading when pretending to read; enjoy being read to and retelling simple stories; use descriptive language to explain or to ask questions; recognize letters and letter-sound matches; show familiarity with rhyming and beginning sounds; understand that print is read left-to-right and top-to-bottom; begin to match spoken words with written ones; begin to write letters of the alphabet and some words they use and hear often; and begin to write stories with some readable parts.
- Making sure literacy experiences are exciting and fun ensures children will continue to be interested in books, stories, language, and in turn, reading.
- Imaginative play not only encourages word usages, creativity, and vocabulary building; it also helps develop communication amongst their peers, which will make reading aloud fun and exciting.
- Practice rhyming: “Snug as a bug in a rug.”
- Play “I Spy”.
- Explore different writing materials such as pens, pencils, crayons, and markers to encourage excitement.
- Talk about food during meals, how it tastes and what it looks and feels like.
- Drawing pictures of their experiences emphasizes comprehension and sequencing.
Jolly Phonics Curriculum in all Pre-K and Kindergarten Classrooms
- Jolly Phonics introduces all the letter sounds, with an action, song, and storyline for each of the 42 sounds of English.
- It is an enjoyable, multi-sensory program for teaching the learner how to ‘crack the code’ of English and be able to successfully read and write for meaning.
- This program is used for a full year in preschool.
- Jolly Phonics easily and quickly engages the imagination of young minds, leading to quick and productive learning. Letter sounds, blending & segmenting, identifying sounds in words, learning correct letter formation, and “tricky words” (words that cannot be sounded out using Jolly Phonics sounds) – are the 5 key components of the program.
- Jolly Phonics enables early learners to become successful readers and writers.
- The program can be used alone or in conjunction with other literacy programs already in place.
- Jolly Phonics is fun for your child.
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