Children are singing, scribbling, chanting, reading, talking, playing! This is how children at University City Children’s Center develop their emerging literacy skills every day! Emerging literacy refers to the belief that literacy begins at birth, and continues to develop through interactions with adults and participation in meaningful learning experiences. These experiences in the early years are essential, as they provide the foundation for conventional reading and writing.
Early literacy has moved to the forefront in education! Studies abound! We now know that experiences in the early years contribute significantly to long term success in reading. Studies demonstrate that literacy development begins in infancy and that the fundamentals of literacy---speaking, listening, reading, and writing---develop concurrently and are interrelated. This is contrary to the previously held belief that they were sequential and that children needed to read before writing.
The relationship of literacy to the social and emotional development of young children is clear! The Three Spheres of Understanding, Values and Character, Psychodynamic, and Literacy, which serve as the foundation for the program at UCCC, are interrelated and reflect the belief system that inspires the curriculum. With the guidance of warm and supportive adults, children develop the ability to deal with their feelings, their emotions, their conflicts, and their behavior---all through the power of spoken and written language. Through the intentionality of words and actions, teachers celebrate and support the diversity of the cultures, linguistic backgrounds, and special needs of the UCCC community of children and families.
Literacy at UCCC is central! Teachers organize their classroom environments to include environmental print, quality children’s
literature, and opportunities for reading and writing throughout the day. Observers to classrooms will see children writing orders in the dramatic play area, reading maps in the block area, playing matching games in the math area, and reading together in the book area. All of these learning experiences facilitate literacy skills in which the emphasis is on learning, as opposed to teaching.
The teachers at UCCC actively participate in staff development that deepens their understanding of the complexities of language and literacy. Through reflection and analytical thought, they are constantly expanding their abilities to support emergent literacy for all of the children.
Families are an integral aspect of literacy development. As they engage in conversations, share books, and model appropriate interactions, children advance in their literacy development, which we all know leads to success in later schooling and in life!
We at UCCC --- children, families, & staff --- love literacy!
Susan W. Nall is Professor Emeritus at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and a consultant to UCCC
For the Love of Literacy at UCCC
Susan W. Nall, Ph.D.