Education Preschoolers is the Foundation for Early Literacy
When is it a good time to start reading to your child? Is the perfect time at night or before nap time? There is really no sure answer to that question. But what educators and parents want is often to foster early literacy in children.
Reading is a fundamental skill that all children should know. How can parents encourage early literacy at home?
Although a trip to the local library is a common fun activity, there are other ways to promote reading at home. And it is also a great way for parents to spend time with their children.
Why is reading such a basic skill in education preschoolers?
Simply, studies showed that preschoolers who begin to take part in story-times or are read out-loud are more apt to have better language skills than those children who were not.
The findings of this study also suggested that preschoolers, later, have higher achievement scores in spelling, reading comprehension, and improved language skills. As a matter of fact, preschoolers who were also taught reading with early print-awareness also increased their reading levels.
Is being bilingual in diverse languages besides the native one an excellent way to improve your brain skills? The way we acquire language is an amazing process. In fact, children, younger than 3 years old, are able to absorb words in many different languages.
“The brain has a perfectly good system whose job it is to do just that – it’s the executive control system. It focuses attention on what’s important and ignores distraction. Therefore, for a bilingual, the executive control system is used in every sentence you utter. That’s what makes it strong.” Ellen Bialystok explained.
Many schools in the United States offer a foreign language program. And many of them are not implemented until High School. But studies show the earlier a child learns another language, the better for the child’s brain. However, not until recently, scientific evidence suggests learning another language is better for your brain.
Between the 1880s and 1960s, educators believed learning a second language can lead to literacy disruption, language delay, and confusion. The opposite is true. Many of the benefits include language improvement, logical thinking, and enhancement of cognitive abilities.
A recent study shows how infants write down signs of improved cognitive ability. A group of 7-month old babies were shown an image followed by a sound. Then, a puppet is presented in one particular part of the study. Several variations of the patterns and sounds are presented. And the puppet is moved from one place to another. Amazingly, bilingual children are able to expect the change of place of the puppet while monolingual babies were not.
Other studies show children between the ages of 5 and 6 years old that have learned a foreign language tend to prove developed mental skills. As a matter of fact, bilinguals add more details to drawings, suggesting creativity and enhanced language skills. A current study using functional near-infrared spectroscopy shows a difference in brain structure between monolinguals and bilinguals. The brain of bilinguals shows more activity in the inferior frontal cortex while reading. The human brain is an immense, powerful organ. And language acquisition is only one of its functions.
Besides the ability to know two or more languages, learning a foreign language has more benefits. It provides a competitive edge in college applications and resumes. It eliminates distractions and focuses on the task at hand. This mental agility gives the brain an extra boost in learning. And it can later prevent the early signs of dementia or mind aging.
The previous idea that learning a second language can delay language acquisition is an unproved one. Scientific evidence suggests bilinguals have more brain activity. Even as young as 3 years old, learning another language does not prevent their linguistics. Being bilingual is a great way to increase language learning for life.
Poetry for children is one of the most rewarding experiences educators show. Besides the literacy aspect of poems, it also shows rhyming, metaphors, and boosts their imaginations.
Not only is it fun to learn another language by reading different types of literature, but also it is interesting to see how other authors interpret the world around us.
Poems can turn into songs and they turn into poems. But the beauty of it all is that in a short or long poem, you appreciate the rhyming in Spanish. Children enjoy using various Spanish words to interpret the content.
But what are some great sources in poetry for children to start this literary endeavor?
In “Animal Poems of the Iguazú, Animalario del Iguazú” by Francisco X. Alarcón, you read about the many wonderful creatures that live at the rainforest of the Iguazú in South America in prose form. Alarcón makes a wonderful reference to this wonder of nature for children to know about with metaphors, rhyming, and alliteration.
What are the Iguazu Falls in poetry for children?
The Iguazu Falls (Cataratas del Iguazú) are located between the borders of Brazil and Argentina. These immense waterfalls are about 80 meters high (approx. 269 ft.), 2.7 kilometers wide (1.7 miles), and there are 275 drops. The name Iguazú is derived from the primitive language guaraní: ‘agua y grande’, which the literal translation means big water.
In this vast area of now protected rainforest, you find many different species from monkeys to panthers to exotic birds. Alarcón makes a wonderful mention to the Iguazu’s beauty in his books and poems.
Here are examples from his works that describes the earth at the Iguazu Falls:
es … colorado
como el ají
y el pimiento…
…la canela y el chocolate…”
“Earth, you have
so much iron
is … rusty
…cinnamon and chocolate powder”
The author makes a wonderful description and compares the earth (tierra) on Iguazu Falls as red as peppers and chiles and magnifies our senses that red implies hot (caliente). It also implies that the texture (textura) of the earth is like cinnamon or chocolate, powdery and gritty. In a beautiful way, the poem wants you to use all of your senses to explore the beauty of the Iguazu Falls.
Poetry for children is a great way to introduce other genres of literature. Reading can be fun with books. But it can also be more engaging when educators show poetry as an alternative to books.
Have you tried poetry for children, recently? Did you like it or not?