Developing the foundations for literacy and numeracy skills are important goals of a good early learning program, but so is creating enthusiasm for questioning, exploring, and seeking answers. You may remember a time when “the three Rs”—which actually meant reading, writing, and arithmetic—summarized what children did at school. Very structured literacy programs limit possibilities and, in turn, opportunities for children to explore and learn from organic and authentic foundational experiences. Today, early childhood programs have replaced long hours spent memorizing spelling, grammar, and math rules with more developmentally appropriate learning activities that children can relate to real-world issues. These expose children to foundational literacy and numeracy skills in ways that truly interest and engage them.
Very structured literacy programs limit possibilities and, in turn, opportunities for children to explore and learn from organic and authentic foundational experiences. Young children are capable of so much! A high-quality early childhood program will offer young learners meaningful learning experiences that foster a belief in the self as writer, reader, and mathematician. Rich learning experiences that develop foundational literacy and numeracy skills offer young learners multiple and varied opportunities for exposure, exploration, and building self-confidence.
- What is the school’s approach toward teaching early literacy and numeracy? What skills do you expect children to learn in these areas?
- What kinds of learning opportunities will my child be exposed to here that foster a positive approach to building literacy and numeracy skills?
- Notice numbers, letters, words, and symbols around you, and talk with your child about the meaning they provide.
- Read, read, read to your child on a daily basis! Visit the library and the book shop. Share and borrow books. Ask questions about the pictures and the story as you read together.
- Look for authentic ways to engage your child in writing. For instance, write or draw a postcard together and post it to someone special; when you write your shopping list, offer the child a pen and paper too and model the writing process.
- Little hands need lots of use to make them strong! Support fine motor development by giving your child opportunities to use different writing and cutting tools, along with toys that require manual dexterity such as legos, threading beads, and puzzles.