Preparing your preschoolers for kindergarten is one of many priorities for early childhood professionals. Of those priorities, ensuring that the children are armed with strong literacy skills will play a key role in their educational success.
One approach for promoting early literacy is reading aloud. Here are a couple things to consider, as you read with your class:
Increase Attentiveness and Listening
Besides building language and literacy skills, reading aloud promotes interactive discussions and engagement in the classroom. Before you begin, show the children the front cover of the book and highlight the illustrations, title and the author. Ask them, “What do you think this book will be about?” Once the children offer their insight, ask a follow-up question, such as, “What makes you think that?” Continue with lines of questioning that will provoke higher-level thinking.
Then, as you begin to read, make time along the way for comments and questions about the story – encourage the class’s participation and shape their comprehension proficiencies.
Encourage Creativity and Imagination
Reading aloud affords an opportunity to incite a child’s creativity and imagination. For example, you could choose a wordless picture book and let the children create their own story based on the images in the book. Ask, “What do you think is happening here?” Or, “What should we name the blue bear?” Also, allow the class to build on each other’s thought and ideas.
As the children are engaging their creative thought processes, bring your own creativity to the table using a storytelling voice and tone. Use higher or lower pitched voices, relevant to the story. Make sound effects like “SPLASH” or “BOOM” – growl like the blue bear, or meow like a cat. Be sure to leverage these sound effects with animation and creative facial expressions.
A couple important details to keep in mind when reading aloud to your classroom is to first start small – a preschooler’s attention span is much shorter than an adult’s. Choose shorter books, or books that are not as text heavy and then over time you’ll be able to introduce longer books as their attention span grows. Secondly, you’ll want to read the same book multiple times – this approach is key to language development and enforcing reading comprehension.
Promoting early literacy in the classroom not only supports kindergarten readiness, but also sets the stage for future academic success and achievement. So, gather your little readers and spark their literacy path!