Issue 4. Growing Like A Read. Letter Knowledge


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Growing Like a Read
Quarterly eNewsletter from the Pioneer Library System - focusing on early literacy skills

April 2012

H2 SideApril Is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month

by Candace McCaffrey, Ph.D.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect and create strong communities to support children and families. All across our nation involved community members will be working to bring awareness to this difficult problem. In Oklahoma there will be a statewide effort to come together on behalf of our most vulnerable citizens. The month is symbolized with blue ribbons; and churches, businesses, schools and private individuals will be tying blue ribbons on trees to promote this cause.

Child abuse remains a national problem. Did you know that in our nation a report of abuse is made every 10 seconds? Did you know that there are over 3 million reports a year? It is also true that 5 children die every day as a result of child abuse, and most are under the age of 4 years. In Oklahoma alone we had 7,248 substantiated cases of child abuse in 2010. Child abuse occurs at every socio-economic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education.

Prevention is the best hope for reducing child abuse and neglect and improving the lives of children and families. Strengthening families and preventing abuse requires a shared commitment of individuals and organizations in every community.

Here are four things you could do:

  1. Volunteer or financially support a local agency that offers child abuse prevention services in your community.
  2. Offer support to a struggling parent/family. Agree to lend assistance when they need a time-out or a place to vent.
  3. Call your local legislators and let them know that you support funding for child abuse prevention programs. Tell them that the annual cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States in 2007 was $104 billion dollars!
  4. Go online and search the term "child abuse prevention" and educate yourself on all the others things you can do.

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H2 SideLetters Make Words

by Jenny Foster Stenis, MLIS

What do Shout! Shout It Out! by Denise Fleming, ABC Animal Jamboree by Giles Andreae, Perfect Square by Michael Hall and Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert have in common? These books all play with the early concepts of alphabet, and are excellent examples of the books that introduce the pre-reading skill of letter knowledge. Letter knowledge is knowing that letters are different from each other and that they have diverse names and sounds. Teaching your child that his name starts with the letter B, for example; and 'buh' is the sound that B makes is helping him learn letter knowledge.

Letter knowledge is important because in order for children to read written words they must understand that words are made up of individual letters and that each letter has its own sound. Children up until age three will not have any concept of what letters represent, but will be able to recite or sing the "Alphabet Song." By the end of their third year children may be able to name some of the letters, yet it is not unusual for children to confuse highly similar letters such as M and W. Numbers are often confused as well. At this age there will be some understanding that letters are used to make words, but not why specific letters are chosen to create a certain word. Some children may also begin to associate the names of a few letters with their sounds; however, this may happen as late as six or seven in other children.

Help your baby and toddler learn letters by beginning with shapes and explaining how things are different and alike. Help them see that cows are not the same as dogs and cats; that a truck is shaped differently from a car, train or bulldozer. This will help prepare them to see the differences in the shapes of the letters. Read books that feature geometric shapes such as Lois Ehlert's Color Zoo. Explore the transformation of shape in Michael Hall's Perfect Square. Talk about the shapes of things as you read together. "The ball is round" is an example of how easy the phrasing can be! Enjoy simple shape puzzles together. Check out the SHAPES Family Literacy Kit for shape books, toys and puzzles.

Help your three year old and four year old learn the alphabet by reading alphabet books and singing alphabet songs to introduce the letters. When reading Shout! Shout It Out! or ABC Animal Jamboree, point at the letters while reading the letters. Have your child say the letter after you. Make it a game! Check out the ALPHAHBET Family Literacy Kit to further explore alphabet books, toys and puzzles. Play a variety of fun reading or writing activities that encourage drawing letters and shapes. Help your child "write" a simple story or "label" his favorite picture. Help your child write and read his name using magnetic letters, crayons and paper.

Remember that reading is not a skill that comes automatically or happens overnight. Reading is the combination of many skill sets that develop over a period of years. Help your child love reading by reading to him and making it an enjoyable time that you share together.

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H2 SideTen Things Every Child Needs

As adapted from the work of Bruce Perry Ph.D., M.D. by Raymond McCaffrey Ph.D.

Every child is born with innate abilities and unrealized potentials that are the result of the genetic endowment bestowed upon them by their parents. Whether that potential is fully or partially realized is largely a result of the type of environment in which that a child is raised. Bruce Perry, a noted psychiatrist who has worked for years in the area of early childhood development, has suggested that there are ten simple experiences that every child needs to optimize his/her development. The following is a summary of these ten things (they appear in bold print below).

He asserts that every child must have the benefit of human interaction that occurs within a safe and healthy environment, involves frequent touch, and is part of a stable relationship with a loving adult. These factors are important for parents as well as those who provide child care. The relationships that are formed within the first three to five years of life serve as a template for all future relationships in that child's life. The bond that forms through a stable, predictable, nurturing, and loving environment allows the child to develop trust and a sense of self-esteem; knowing that they are worthy as individuals and deserving of attention and reassurance. Every child deserves to be--and should be--the apple of someone's eye.

Communication is a central need in every child's life. They need to know that they can express themselves in a way that can be understood by others and that they can understand what others are attempting to communicate to them. Talk to a child, even if they might not understand all of the words that are used. Allow them to express their needs through play and imagination. Expose them to music, rhythm, and rhyme. Finally, read to the child--this builds thinking, language, and reasoning skills that will serve them for a lifetime.

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