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Blog: Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

Oral Literacy & Kindergarten Readiness

This is the time of year that elementary schools start to offer Ready, Set, Learn sessions for parents with 3 and 4 year olds. It is both an exciting time for families, as well as a scary one. Schools get many questions from parents - “How do I know if my child is ready for kindergarten?”, “What does my child need to be able to do to be ready for kindergarten?” and “What sorts of activities should I engage my child in?” These are tough questions to answer, or are they?

We know that oral language permeates every facet of the school curriculum. “Oral literacy is a key component of student learning across the curriculum, and is essential for successful literacy learning. Students who develop strong oral language skills have a larger vocabulary, which leads to greater success in school. Most learning activities that occur in the classroom rely on oral language; students are given opportunities to orally share their understanding, ideas, opinions, beliefs, and questions.” (Provincial Outreach Program for Early Intervention 2017)

Research shows that children who come to school with larger vocabularies tend to do better both academically and socially, they have an easier time adjusting to school life. This makes sense as they are able to communicate their needs, wants and concerns. They also have a larger bank of words to pull from as they start learning about language formally. So then how does one answer the questions we get from parents? How do I prepare my child for kindergarten?

  1. Talk with your child. Tune-In by paying attention to what your child is trying to communicate to you, Talk More with your child using descriptive words to build his/her vocabulary, Take Turns by encouraging your child to respond to your words and actions (30 Million Word Project)
  2. Go outside with your child on walks and adventures. Talk about what you see, hear and smell. See if you can find snails, slugs, things that are blue, circles or triangles. (you get the idea)
  3. Play, Play, Play. Let your child play alone or with friends or with you. Let your child engage in spontaneous play, play that is imaginative. Play is so very important for developing so many skills needed in school. (taking turns, communication, negotiation, disappointment, etc)
  4. Read, Read, Read. Find a quiet comfy place, an interesting book and look at the pictures together, talk about what you see, ask each other questions and answer them, read the book.
  5. Put the phone and electronics away. Join the movement of put the phone down, and engage with your child and those around you.

If a parent is unsure of how to do this or would like to know where they can find friends for their child to talk and play with, Strong Start is a great place to send them. Strong Start is available to caregivers and parents with children from 0-5 years of age. At the 12 Strong Start locations in Abbotsford, we have Early Childhood Educators who model the importance of oral literacy and play in preparing children for life. Children are engaged in both structured activities and spontaneous play, stories are shared with children, outside adventures and play are an important part of the day, and always lots of talk by both adults and most importantly the children.

Oral literacy is a key component to a child being successful in school and life. Let’s try focusing on developing this skill in our little people and enjoy the process along the way.

DONNA WRIGHT
District Principal, Early Learning