Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Becoming Writers, Impacting Lives

How can we help children become great readers and writers? When should we start building their literacy skills? How do children learn through their environments?

Early childhood is an amazing time when children are learning about the world around them. All of their experiences teach them so much. Literacy learning is one part of development which relies hugely on a child's early experiences. As adults, part of our job is to facilitate rich, meaningful experiences that will help children become lifelong readers and writers. This should start as soon as we meet the child. For parents, this means the process of fostering literacy development begins at birth; for educators, this process begins when a child enters the classroom.

Allowing children to feel comfortable in their environments helps them become confident learners and risk-takers. Children who feel comfortable in their environments and the people around them will share their opinions and make their ideas known. The process of expressing themselves holds so many opportunities for great literacy development. Children might decide to make signs for a class or school event, write letters to family members, create a petition for an issue they believe in, film a commercial for a product or event, or start a blog about their favorite things to do. We, as adults, play a role in this personal or group expression by providing encouragement and resources as necessary. We can ask questions about children's thoughts and plan to help them think critically to find productive and meaningful methods of expression. When children are involved in this planning and these thought processes about topics of interest to them, they are learning so much about their roles in the world as writers, readers, and public speakers.

In order to help children become successful writers, we first need to help them understand what a "writer" or an "author" is. Every time a child reads or hears a book, she is interacting with an author, even if she is not aware. To help children develop an awareness of the people behind the books they read, parents and teachers can include the author's and illustrator's names every time they read a book aloud to a child. Providing more information about authors and illustrators, such as photos, biographical information, and additional works, can help children connect more deeply with the books they read. We can point out authors' styles and describe the types of books they write in order to help children think about the wide variety of available texts. All of these connections to books, authors, and illustrators are part of preparing children to be writers themselves. They will begin to use their knowledge of how books are written to create their own stories and books.

Also, don't forge
t to refer to your children as authors, readers, and activists, and treat their ideas with respect! When they see and hear that you value their work, they will be excited to do more, continuing their literacy development.

Already Ready: Nurturing Writers in Preschool and Kindergarten, by Katie Wood Ray & Matt Glover

Negotiating Critical Literacies with Young Children, by Vivian Maria Vasquez


  1. I agree that "Allowing children to feel comfortable in their environments helps them become confident learners and risk-takers." Being a teacher that sets up the environment to where children feel free to explore their thoughts and ideas is important. Teachers need to create an environment that encourages learning in several ways.

  2. I really like how you talked about literacy learning. It is important for teachers to "facilitate rich, meaningful experiences that will help children become lifelong readers and writers." One way to do this is to provide children with the tools they need to explore and investigate their questions and find the answers themselves.

  3. Its true that children need to feel comfortable in their environment before they can start to reach their full potential in literacy. Children need to feel confident that they can take risks in writing and really reach into their imaginations in order to create something new and exciting that they want to share with the rest of the world.

  4. Sometimes teachers are hesitant to indicate the parents’ role as an educator; however, a parent’s involvement is crucial—just as you mentioned. As early educators, we know that development should be nurtured as soon as possible. As you had mentioned, this nurturing should begin at birth (or even in the womb) for the family and as soon as they get assigned to your classroom as a teacher.

  5. You make a great choice in diction in your post by choosing to say foster. Children are "ALREADY ready." They have the skills to create, but what they do not have are the fundamental skills that our society has created as boundaries to acceptable formats to books. Teachers have the opportunity to draw attention to this, and children can formulate their books as they make observations of conventional stories.