It was again an enriching discussion and I’m eager to share some insights with you.
Reading and writing in any language involves three crucial aspects:
Knowledge of print.
Knowledge of language.
Knowledge of the world.
And it is important for those supporting the child not to lose sight of the biggest purpose of reading, which is to understand a message; and of writing, which is to communicate an idea.
That’s why language and knowledge are so important!
But let’s go back to print for a bit, because that’s where the whole mechanics of learning to read and write starts.
Children need to learn to do three things with print:
Recognize the letters/characters/symbols.
Connect them to sounds or meanings.
Form them, write them correctly.
And all that must become automatic and fluent for them to be competent readers and writers.
A few ways to practice reading and writing in a fun, sensory way at home:
- Have magnetic or wooden letters to play around with forming words.
- Make cards with letters, words or pictures that they’ve been learning. Create games such as memory, dominoes, categories, make up a story, etc.
- Sort objects or toys into categories (initial/final sound, rhyme, etc).
- Play I Spy and I’m going on a trip.
- Play Scrabble and Hangman.
- Organize a Word/Letter Hunt around the house.
- Play Word Snake or Word Ladder.
- ‘Blind read’ with sandpaper letters.
- Make letters from different materials: play dough, clay, pipe cleaners, Lego, etc.
- Draw and write with different equipment: chalk, paint, crayons, markers.
- Write with your ‘magic body parts’ in the air.
- Write on someone’s back.
- Write on a sand/salt/rice tray or on a Ziploc bag filled with hair gel.
The more hands-on and fun the activities are, the more eager children will be to learn!
As they grow and develop, it’s important to keep finding context and purpose for reading and writing. Some interesting practices could be: writing letters, cards or emails to family, writing stories together, writing a journal or keeping a happiness jar.
Language transfer and different alphabets
It is true that once a child learns to read in a language they’re likely to transfer those skills to the other, especially if they share the same alphabet. The task here is to work on the letters and combinations that are read in a different way. There might be a bit of initial confusion, especially when writing, but with time and practice it will sort itself out.
Children learning different alphabets or writing systems will have more to learn and probably need more time to master both, but on the other hand they might experience less confusion.
Literacy development requires time, patience and consistent practice. And if you're learning more than one language, even more so!
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This meeting followed Reading in different languages with babies and toddlers.
For more Free Online Meetings on Multilingualism, check out Ute's calendar.
Test your children's reading skills in English and find out what you need to bridge the gap.