Parenting Connection: Children’s Literacy, Birth to Age 3

Michigan

It’s Parenting Connection Tuesday and 6 News is here for you with tips, strategies, and helpful reminders from local child development experts on how we can be better parents and guardians.

Today’s topic: Children’s literacy.

Right now our state lags behind in literacy among children nationwide. Efforts to fix this are currently underway, like the “Read by Grade 3” law that’ll begin this coming school year and detailed instructional practices currently being developed by state education officials dubbed “Literacy Essentials.” The goal is pinpointing essential practices for teachers in order to improve reading skills for all ages. The latest addition to the multi-year project was developed by Michigan’s Early Literacy Task Force and focuses on children from birth to age 3.

According to the latest document titled, Essential Instructional Practices in Language and Emergent Literacy: Birth to Age 3, it says the first three years of life are when children learn the fastest, and are the most impactful years for later learning in life.

Researchers identified 10 practices for early childhood practitioners to now use in order to improve literacy skills.

They include:
*Create Safe, Secure, and Stimulating Environment
*Bring Attention to Print Concepts
*Share Books in Engaging Ways
*Play With Sounds and Invite Children to Play
*Enhance Two-Way Communication With Gestures
*Support Skills Across Developmental Domains Important for Writing
*Converse With Children, Responding to Their Cues and Letting Them Choose Topics
*Provide Materials for Reading and Writing
*Monitor Language Development, Screen for Early Delays, and Refer Families to Services if needed
*Work With Families to Promote Home Language and Literacy Environments that are Rich and Responsive

Child development expert with Michigan State University Claire Vallotton says, after combing through this latest research on essential literacy practices involving infants and toddlers, a big takeaway is how proper sleep is connected to success.

“One of the things that surpised me, was how much sleep is connected to literacy. Babies, toddlers, and a few pre-schoolers need sleep, they do a lot of their processing and solidifying their information during sleep. Sleep is a big one, making sure they are getting enough of it and making sure they have a calm environment and a routine around naptime and bedtime that helps them get to sleep well and deeply.”

Researchers believe with providing teachers with these essential instructional practices, and with parents helping at home, it’ll increase Michigan’s capacity to improve literacy statewide.

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