My private practice is involved in a fantastic project. We are working with Prep classrooms and their feeder Preschool classrooms to develop Oral Language and Phonemic Awareness skills for the outcome of increased literacy skills in grade two. Speech pathologists, educators and educational support staff in the same place guarantees stimulating conversations.
Something we discuss frequently is the significant change which occurs when children swap from learning to read to reading to learn. As we know the first years of formal schooling are involved with learning to read. This consists of utilising our phonemic awareness skills, developing our orthographic skills (phonics) and developing fluency (which recall). For many children, this flips to reading to learn by the end of grade three. I acknowledge that this process isn’t like flicking a switch. Indeed children, at points, are using both processes simultaneously and continuously. Yet what is certain is that if children haven’t made the switch by the start of grade four, it can have a significant impact on their future across all areas of the curriculum.
Learning to read is like rocket science. It isn’t natural or straightforward, although some children make it look easy. I have often talked with teaching colleagues about oral language is the solid foundation on which we build literacy. I don’t know if you have seen Pamela Snow’s Literacy house. Check out the snow report here. Thank you, Pamela Snow, for your truth and dedication to getting this message out there.
It is perfect for describing and sharing with the team. To build a secure literacy house, you need strong foundations.
Let’s start with the soil. The soil represents the social and emotional context for language growth. Oral language is the concrete or foundation with literacy being the house. If our foundations are weak, our house will be vulnerable as well. To build strong oral language skills, we need to take into account all the factors which interplay. This includes form, content and use. We need to practice these in environments which encourage us to use and practice all aspects of communication. More and more, I see the substantial importance of social cognition and the importance of secure social connections. Literacy skills build on competencies acquired before children enter school. This combination of vocabulary, narrative syntax and phonological/phonemic and morphological awareness promotes future academic achievement, school attachment as well as positive self-esteem.
So, what happens when kids don’t develop strong oral language skills. The impacts are enormous.
Over the coming weeks, I am going to share some of our discussions and resources we have developed to use in our program.
To get you started I have created tester packs of our Boom Cards. These self-correcting cards have been invaluable in working with children over telepractice. They love them. Let me know what you think?
Have a great week.
Click on the icons to head over to the Boom Learning website. You will need a membership (they are free) to view.