Archive for July, 2011


Early literacy is everything children know about reading, writing, speaking, listening and visual representations, before they know how to perform these skills. Early literacy  experiences form the building blocks for
language, reading and writing development during elementary school and beyond.


Early literacy is not the “teaching of reading” or a “teaching of writing”. It is a growing understanding of listening, speaking, reading and writing exposures and experiences, not the reading and writing itself.
 Your child will “formally” learn how to read and write in school.
Reading and writing skills are important for our children, but from birth to five years of age, it is not the main focus of literacy experiences.
The main focus of promoting early literacy at home should be on providing everyday, ordinary and natural experiences involving the use of language, writing and reading, which builds early literacy development.


  • Brain development research shows that reading aloud to your child every day increases his brain’s capacity for language and literacy skills and is one of the most important things you can do to prepare him for learning to read later.
  • When you read, talk or play with your child, you’re stimulating the growth of your child’s brain and building the connections that will become the building blocks for reading.
  • Another important thing you can do to foster early literacy is provide an atmosphere that’s fun, verbal and stimulating, not school-like. The focus should not be on teaching, but on the
    fun you’re having with your child.
  • Offer your child plenty of opportunities to talk and be listened to, to read and be read to, and to sing and be sung to.


Provide a print rich environment- Simply put, have lots of reading, writing, and real life materials where your child can see it and get to it. It does not have to cost a fortune. You can use common household items that you may have lying around, such as:
•Notebook paper and clipboards
•Pencils, crayons, markers and other writing tools
•Stationary, greeting cards, note pads, and index cards
•Shopping lists, envelopes, order forms, and phone memo pads
•Alphabet books and magnetic letters
•Various items for tracing
•White board or chalk board
•Grocery store ads and sales flyers
•Cereal boxes and other food labels
•If you have a home computer, allow your child to use it, but only occasionally
•Encourage your child to draw pictures of their favorite stories and of things they have seen, heard and done.
•Encourage the use of rhyming words and word play.
•Take it a step further by making a rhyme or poem out of an experience, such as: I sat on the rug and saw a bug. It made me shrug, so mom gave me a hug.
•Provide opportunities to experience new things and to  ask questions.- Going on a trip to the store, going to the library, or going to a museum.
•Use good literature, both of fiction and non-fiction.
•Make a game of identifying pictures in books
•Find out what’s at your local Smart Start Resource center
There are so many other ways to promote early literacy in everyday situations and interactions with your child. Examples include:

Playing games

Talk about traffic signs and billboards when in the car

Use descriptive words (larger, smaller, more than, less than, etc)

Sing songs together (made up, nursery rhymes, or songs from cassettes or the radio)

Encourage copying letters and words from the environment

Encourage your child to re-tell their favorite story to you

Display their drawings, scribbling and writings

Print your child’s name on their belongings


To help children with disabilities acquire literacy skills, the following modifications have been suggested by experts:

•Slow down the pace of instruction, use simple language, and give explicit instructions.
•Provide many opportunities to experience reading and books, even if a child is not ready for reading. An example is to make books at home, using photos of your child doing activities.
•Use a variety of books. Lots of pictures and large print are very helpful. Board books are a good idea for children with fine motor difficulties.
•Use visual prompts to capture children’s attention and teach story sequence.
•Use lots of hands-on activities, such as clapping or jumping along with syllable counts.


1) Print Motivation: Enjoying books
2) Vocabulary: Knowing the names of things and concepts in the world.
3) Letter Knowledge: Knowing letter names and sounds.
4) Narrative Skills: The ability to describe things and events and to tell stories.
5) Print Awareness: Noticing print and knowing how a book works.
6) Phonological Awareness: Being able to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words, such as rhymes and syllables.
When you talk, sing, and read with your  child in a fun, relaxed environment, you are helping your child develop these skills. Establishing positive associations with books, by making reading time fun for your child, will help him or her become motivated to learn to read.


  1. Dr. Seuss Board Books. Children will love the rhyming words.
  2. Goodnight Moon, By Margaret W. Brown. A bedtime classic
  3. Baby Faces Series, By Scholastic. Diverse photos of babies doing familiar games.
  4. Flower in the Garden, and others by Lucy Cousins. Cloth and vinyl books that can be washed and have easily recognizable objects.
  5. Friends Together, More Alike Than Different, By Rochelle Burnett. Has lovely photos of children with and without special needs having fun together.
  6. The Rainbow Fish, by Marcus Pfister. This story has a good moral, and is beautifully illustrated.
  7. Five Little Monkeys Sitting In The Tree and Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow. This rhyming book is also a song, so the children can sing it to you.
  8. Old MacDonald Had a Farm, Illustrated by Carol Jones. A classic song, in the form of a book, to provide a “picture” of the words to the beloved nursery rhyme.
  9. I Spy books by Jean Marzollo. Riddles and rhymes, as well as an object hunt!





•Partnerships between families and educators is vital to the success and development of children. Parents and teachers must work together to positively influence and
mold our children. It is my belief that good communication is key to building a positive and purposeful relationship between families and educators.
•Teachers are concerned about your child’s growth and development. It makes sense that teachers and parents would work together in the best interest of the children.
•Parents, please feel free to communicate with your child’s teacher by means of notes, phone calls, messages, share emails or come by for a visit. Families are welcome at the center, at all times.
I hope this information is helpful to you. Please contact me for more references.
To see the video version of this:

Technological Toys,

A Special Needs

Play provides a fun, care free means to learning and developing cognitive,
language, social-emotional,and perceptual motor skills. For some children with
disabilities, technology makes play possible (Lewis). Disabilities can often
times hinder such play with technology, because many electronic toys in
circulation require children to push, pull, or wind a switch. There are many
electronic toys that also require children to walk, run and manipulate it in
order to get it to work. This is not developmentally appropriate, especially for
children with certain exceptionalities. Switches or buttons on electronic toys
can discourage and frustrate some children. The best types of toys for children
with special needs are those that are typically switchless, which are called
“ALD” automated learning devices. This simply means it has been adapted to allow
children with exceptionalities to control these electrical and battery powered
toys. The most common type of electronic switchless toys are battery operated
and are designed to be activated by a simple touch or sound. When the child
makes a sound or movement, the toy is triggered to activate, eliminating the
frustration and complication of switch manipulations.

There are several factors to consider when purchasing electronic toys for
children with exceptionalities. The electronic toys you choose for children with
exceptionalities should be inviting, educational, rewarding and appropriate for
each child that is using them (Lekotek Resources). Electronic toys should
encourage child interaction and provide a stress free challenge to help develop
needed skills. The electronic toys should be adaptable to each
child’sindividuality and ability. It should reflect children’s interests,
sizes,capabilities, strength, and age. It should also encourage social
engagement with others as well.

You can find some of these toys throught the Lekotek website, linked

Works Cited

Lekotek Resources. Lekotek: The country’s centra lsource on
toys and play for children with special needs. 30 October 2010


Lewis, Rena B. “Toys for Young Children.” Special Education
Technology: Classroom Applications (1993): 5.