Other Readiness Level Suggestions - Page 1
Children should participate in frequent warm interactive discussions of beginner books with caregivers. The very first books for young children consist of pictures with brief sentences or phrases that describe the pictures, such as “See the big red ball.” The child looks at the picture and hears the words read aloud, followed by spontaneous comments from the adult such as, “Oh, what a big ball! Can you point to the ball? What color is the ball?”
Likewise, children should hear books read aloud that have rhythmic, rhyming qualities. Mother Goose and the easiest Dr. Seuss book are two time-honored examples. As the books and rhymes are read and reread over a period of time, the child internalizes the language structures he hears. In this way, the child instinctively learns to hear rhyme and alliteration (two or more words beginning with the same letter sound, for instance, big bouncing ball). Later, the caregiver or teacher can play rhyming games to help the child consciously learn to listen and match rhyming words.
In addition, children should hear classic children’s stories, the kind which have an authentic emotional interest and definite story structure. Books such as The Story About Ping, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, and The Three Bears fit this category. In this way children learn to comprehend story structure and understand the slightly different, more complex vocabulary of our written language as opposed to the typically heard oral language from daily conversation and 30 second television commercials. Repeated readings give a child a chance to assimilate these vital language components.
Young children must be given a chance to “play read” all of the above materials. They must have a chance to have books of their own, to hold them and examine them closely, to have them within easy reach. When children begin to “read” the story in their own words after they have heard it read aloud, this is wonderful. Do not think that you should jump in and start trying to explain that those are not exactly the right words. For a while, give the child his or her own space to creatively respond to these stories without any worries about the printed words.
Children must have many rich hands-on sensory experiences with materials that will develop visual-motor skills. This includes activities such as working puzzles, manipulating clay, painting and drawing, matching and sorting games, using construction toys such as blocks, and cutting and pasting activities. For children in early childhood programs and primary classrooms, “playing” with these types of materials provides the vital fine tuning of a child’s senses necessary to develop the skills necessary to read and write.
Likewise, children must have extensive language experiences through social interaction with others. Having conversations with adults and peers, playing listening and memory games, singing songs, listening to and following simple directions, telling and retelling stories, and dramatic play activities with other children are all important means of developing a child’s competence in the use of language.