Early on children understand the magic and power of the written word. In their pre-Elementary school years we jump on this natural interest to stir their interests. By taking deliberate steps towards literacy each day, children can have a great basic understanding when they enter Kindergarten. These steps are done through a 3 part approach:
1) Provide a literacy rich environment.
2) Develop the children's fine motor skills, and
3) Provide lots of opportunities for children to practice their pencil grip while working on their pre-writing skills.
Literacy Rich Environment:
By providing examples of print in different forms, we reinforce the concept that we live in a print-rich world. Teachers model writing in order to organize research, share thoughts and ideas, and document classroom and Art Studio work.
Having books in the classroom is paramount. During more organized story times, we introduce our weekly library books with respect. We introduce them by title, talk about the Author and the Illustrator of the book, and afterwords reflect on our thoughts. The children are encouraged to discuss books critically, whether that means rating it using our star system, or comparing it to other books we've recently read.
Our classroom books are always available for impromptu story times, or to read on their own. These are rotated as needed by teachers, as well as bi-monthly by the Multnomah County Library.
Children are welcome to bring favorite books from home to share. This can provide us opportunities to model respect and admiration for special stories, and strengthen connections between home and school.
Fine Motor Skills:
A necessary step towards correct pencil grip, and pre-writing skills, is lots of fine motor work. Fine motor work is any activity that involves use of the small muscles which control the hand, fingers and thumb.
Our daily project time work always includes fine motor work. By manipulating small tools such as glue sticks, eye droppers, and Q-tips, the children carefully and deliberately strengthen their fine motor skills. Children also gain confidence by mastering "adult" tools such as: scissors, paint bottles and spray bottles. This important work gets children ready for writing, while also being a huge part of self-sufficiency - whether in the bathroom, getting dressed, or feeding themselves.
During the day each child has ample opportunity and prompts to work on their pencil grip. Correct pencil grip is a process of discovery. On their own, through trial and error, children arrive at a comfortable pencil hold. To engage them to practice we set up deliberately diverse activities throughout the day. Your child might practice using chalk at the chalkboard, markers on the dry erase board, crayons in their journals, or paint brushes in the Art Studio.
Our goal is to inspire a love and respect for reading, and to cultivate the desire and motivation to read and write as the children move towards Kindergarten.