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A Little Literacy, Please: Jumping into Books

You have a book you love.  You read it every chance you get–at the kitchen table over breakfast, as you’re waiting for that pot to boil, while you relax on the couch after the kids are tucked into bed…you don’t want to put it down.  Know what I mean?  You’ve “jumped” into a book, so to speak! 

National Association for the Education of Young Children | NAEYC

And here’s hoping your kids will–or d0–too!  In fact, I recently came across an article in the NAEYC publication (national association of education of the young child), “Young Children,” (November 2010 website is www.naeyc.org) in which this very phenomonen is discussed.  Sort of.  Bear with me here. 

The author of the article, Rae Pica asserts that Children acquire literacy skills in developmentally appropriate ways in a manner in which they like–movement.  And since I’m all about the idea that children ought to learn wholistically–that is–with all of their senses and all aspects of the learning curriculum (language, mathematics, science, social/cultural awareness, etc) then it’s no wonder that active learning is the often the key to unlock to the various dimensions of educational concepts. 

If your are parenting a child with apraxia, then you may be particulalry appreciative of the connection between literacy and movement.  Movement and language, are after all, both forms of communication and expression.  Think: body language, rhythm, speech, and music….they go hand-in-hand. 

When children combine the rhythmic movement with speech and song, it gives young children an opportunity to develop their minds in a more deeper context.  Particularly, self-talk (inner speech) and impulse control, (both of which contribute to language development) as well as self-management, and social skills–all of which are essential skills for life. 

Here are some fun ideas you can do at home to teach words with movement:

  • Speak slowly and have your child move their body as slowly as your words.
  • Speak faster and see if they can gauge their body to move with your faster words.
  • Say a multisyllabic word such as “jellybean” and see if your child can hear the distinct syllables and jump or hop to them. 
  • Likewise, you can have them clap out the syllables to a word.
  • Teach preopsitions (words like “on,” “behind,” “through,” “under”) by creating an obstacle course in your home.  “Go under the chair, now on the rug, behind the sofa…”  Have your child say the word as she completes each action.
  • Adjectives (descriptors) can be taught and “acted out,” too.  For example, “Stomp to the back door, please”  or “crawl to the bathroom,” “slither like a snake to get your backpack.”  Again, allow your child to practice saying those words as he does each action. 
  • What about “skip lightly?”  or “Whisper loudly?”  Hummm?!?! 

This article can be found in an online archive at www.naeyc.org/yc/columns “Linking Literacy and Movement.” 

Rae Pica, the author of the article I read in preparing this blog has written numerous books on movement and early childhood development, including:

  • Jump into Literacy (2007) Product Details
  • She is the co-founder and host of “BAM! Body, Mind and Child” www.bamradionetwork.com
  • Co-founder and host of NAEYC Radio

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