The “Science of Reading,” a phonics based approach to teaching reading based on cognitive science has become the latest buzzword in literacy instruction. The “Science of Reading” refers to over 50 years of interdisciplinary research supporting what works best in reading instruction. It’s most helpful in assessing how children learn to read and write, why some have difficulty, and how to intervene. The theories, studies, and frameworks within the SOR can provide a basis for reading instruction, but it is not a curriculum or a reading program. As the name suggests, it is science and it will evolve as research unfolds.
In my career, I have worn many hats and have been in my current position as an outreach librarian for the last nine years. My job, which had consisted of being in outreach locations, connecting with children at school sites and daycares, participating in community events, and hosting library events to bring the public into the library, changed abruptly in March 2020 to being restricted to my library and in-person programming ceasing. Nothing could have prepared me for the changes and challenges that I and the field of librarianship would face during the COVID pandemic. A new approach, an outside-the-box approach, was needed to fulfill the needs of our patrons and their children.
Writing a grant to fund a playspace at your library? Want to share research-based early tips with parents? Making a presentation to your library board about the importance of early literacy programs? The Early and Family Literacy Committee will soon be releasing a Toolkit to help you! Inside you’ll find oodles of studies (full text if available) that justify the vital work you do every day! But first, we need your help with a few key questions…
A library colleague and mother of a preschooler, recently remarked that she feels confident about how to promote her son’s early literacy development through talking, singing, reading, and playing. Despite being familiar with ECRR2, however, she is unsure exactly how to nurture emergent writing. If my colleague, who is embedded in the public library world, is unsure about what it looks like to support early writing, she is likely not alone. Are we doing all we can to effectively convey and model what it means to foster early writing and why it’s so important?
Turning Research into Practice – Connecting Play and Literacy There’s plenty of information available about the importance of play in child development. Unfortunately, the perception persists for a caregiver to see a child stacking a pile of blocks and say, “oh, they’re just playing”. Librarians have an important role in bridging the research/practice gap with programs which empower parents to recognize and engage with their children during these important learning moments connecting play and literacy.
Play is quite possibly my favorite of the five Early Literacy Practices. Not only because it has the boundless freedom to surprise and delight, but also because it naturally incorporates the other 4 practices – talk, sing, read, and write. When you play, especially with a playmate, talk is a natural part of the fun. If you’re anything like me, you also often make up songs about what you’re doing. Playing games such as I spy or tic-tac-toe incorporate reading and writing. There is just so much possibility with play, and I find that endlessly exciting.
The term executive functioning refers to an important set of skills that allow people to successfully navigate life. These skills include the ability to plan, self-evaluate, self-control, retain information, manage time, and organize thoughts and information. According to a useful infographic published by Harvard, these abilities are not innate to anyone, but may be learned by nearly everyone. Children between the ages of 3 and 5 years old tend to develop these skills rather rapidly, and this development is significantly bolstered by early childhood education and care (ECEC). An exploratory report was published in May of this year, examining the effect of ECEC on children’s executive functioning skills at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to these important skills, the study also examined the effect of this care on language, and the difference socioeconomic status may make on the development of vocabulary and executive functioning. The study looked…
At our last Early and Family Literacy Committee (EFL) meeting, we started our meeting off looking over our charge: *stay on top of current research in the field of early and family literacy, and share it with the library community *develop trainings for library staff about core early literacy skills and practices *collaborate and advise ALSC committees and workgroups on early literacy issues and projects We discussed progress on our first-ever webinar (still in the planning phases – more to come 😊) and talked about new sources to follow (I’d just listened to an episode of the podcast Best of Both Worlds that featured Dr. Lakeisha Johnson at the Florida Center for Reading Research, who focuses on language and literacy development in underserved populations – I’ll definitely be tracking her work!).