Early Literacy

Early Literacy:Are You Ready for Christmas

Written by  |  Thursday, 22 December 2011 07:08  |  Published in Early Literacy
by Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist “So, are you ready for Christmas?” My eyes fall to the ground. I have not yet finished my shopping or gift wrapping. I have not baked shortbread or decorated the Christmas tree. “Ummm,” I mumble, pushing back a mixture of guilt and panic, “There’s still a bit of time before Christmas…isn’t there?” In a fast-food/high-speed internet world my response feels totally incompetent. Even Santa provides instant delivery on Christmas Eve. But, I know if this question was asked a little differently, I could hold my head high and answer with a smile. If I was asked, “Are you enjoying getting ready for Christmas?” my answer would be “Oh yes!” Sometimes I think we can focus on questions with too narrow…

Early Literacy Making Headlines

Written by  |  Thursday, 20 October 2011 08:04  |  Published in Early Literacy
by Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist The Canada Council on Learning October 2011 report states that internationally, Canada is losing its competitive edge with education at each stage of learning from preschoolers to senior citizens. One of its key findings? “Early childhood education and learning (ELEL) affects a child’s health, well-being and skills development, yet research indicates that 25% of Canadian children entering school lack the foundation needed for successful acquisition of literacy and numeracy skills.” (www.ccl-cca.ca/CCL/Newsroom/Releases/20111011FutureLearning.html ) The report does not point the finger at educators or parents, but rather criticizes Canada’s disjointed system of policy creation with respect to education. And it highlights the impact of early childhood education on lifelong learning. But who are the early childhood educators in children’s lives? In 2008…

Home routines can help children with back to school

Written by  |  Thursday, 15 September 2011 08:03  |  Published in Early Literacy
by Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist When warm summer days give way to cooler temperatures and shorter daylight hours, and school buses fill our roads after two months of absence, we know its ‘back to school.’ Parents do their best to prepare children for an easy transition to their first days of school. Yet many parents of children heading off to kindergarten, high school, college or university, also experience an uncomfortable sense of separation, a bi-polar emotion to the joy they have in seeing their children mature and become independent. Surprisingly, one of the best ways parents can help young children face new experiences well is by establishing home routines. Routines reassure children that their basic needs for nutrition, hygiene, rest, play, and love will be…

Playtime for Baby and You

Written by  |  Thursday, 11 August 2011 08:01  |  Published in Early Literacy
by Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist Facebook and Twitter are buzzing with the news. Your newborn has arrived safely. You hear your new baby cry for attention, tiny arms waving without control. What could early literacy possibly have to do with an infant who is not yet ready to speak or write? Research shows that babies respond to rhymes and stories before they are even born! Studies by Anthony DeCasper from the University of North Carolina demonstrate that babies in utero are already learning. DeCasper asked mothers during their last six weeks of pregnancy to read from Dr Seuss’s “The Cat in the Hat” twice a day to their unborn babies. Within a few hours of birth, DeCasper gave these babies soothers to suck that were…

Singing the Praises of Music to Literacy

Written by  |  Thursday, 21 July 2011 07:59  |  Published in Early Literacy
by Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist Sometimes it happens in the car; sometimes in the park. Kailey’s mom breaks into song: Down by the bay where the watermelons grow; back to my home I dare not go. For if I do my mother will say, “Did you ever see llamas eating their pyjamas, down by the bay?” Kailey’s mom enjoys singing, especially with her 3-year-old daughter. Just a few days ago Kailey began creating new verses to ‘Down by the Bay’. Kailey’s verses don’t always rhyme, but her eyes sparkle with excitement when she sings. It hasn’t occurred to Kailey’s mom that singing silly songs with her daughter is educational, but research is proving that music has many benefits to literacy learning. Music has been shown…

Books for sharing this Strawberry Moon

Written by  |  Thursday, 16 June 2011 07:54  |  Published in Early Literacy
by Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist I was driving in my car when I heard the interview on CBC. Diplomat and former lieutenant-governor of Ontario, James Bartleman, was talking about his newest book “As Long As the River Flows”. Bartleman, a member of the Mnjikaning First Nation, has had a highly distinguished career with the Canadian Foreign Service for 35 years. As lieutenant-governor he was highly regarded for his establishment of the Lieutenant-Governor's Book Program, in which more than 1 million used books were collected and donated to First Nations schools. This isn’t the first book James Bartleman has written. He is author to at least four memoirs, but “As Long As the River Flows” is different. This book is fiction and tells the story of…

Celebrating better speech and hearing month with Keil

Written by  |  Wednesday, 08 June 2011 20:00  |  Published in Early Literacy
"It’s time for speech therapy, Keil,” his mom calls out. “Yay!” Keil’s excitement is high. It’s always high when he realizes it’s a speech therapy day. Speech therapy to Keil means playing and spending time with his speech therapist Skye Hale-Sanders. Keil isn’t aware that Skye is using play to help him say more words and to make his speech easier for others to understand. Keil’s mom, Shannon Fraser, began wondering if Keil’s language skills were developing normally when he was about two years of age. At first she brushed off the fact that he wasn’t saying very much as something to be expected with three other siblings in the family. Even the few words he spoke, though, were hard for others to understand. Sharon…

Playing to learn in Canada and Jamaica

Written by  |  Thursday, 07 April 2011 07:42  |  Published in Early Literacy
by Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist Photo: A shipping container donated by Students Crossing borders, and its transformation into a play centre in Jamaica.. “He’s just playing.” Just playing? What looks like “just playing” to adults is how children engage in scientific discovery while digging in the garden; how they learn about time and velocity while playing tag or racing toy cars; and experiment with concepts such as gravity and volume while playing with water during bath time. Children learn social and communication skills while pretending to be super heroes and bus drivers. They learn to distinguish rhyme and the sounds of language necessary for learning how to read and write while singing playful songs like “Down by the Bay”. Play is so foundational to children’s learning,…

Telling a Spring Break Tale

Written by  |  Thursday, 10 March 2011 06:26  |  Published in Early Literacy
by Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist “Once upon a time,” Nathan’s grandpa began, “there lived a court jester named Nathaniel. Court jesters make kings and queens laugh. Nathaniel loved his job but today Nathanial was worried. How could he make the king and queen laugh? He had lost it.” Three-year-old year old Nathan shifted in his car seat. He loved it when Grandpa told stories in the car. Grandma smiled from behind the steering wheel. “Lost what Grandpa?” Nathan asked. “He lost,” Grandpa said solemnly, “his magic ...” Grandpa paused and pulled out a paper bag from the restaurant they had been to for lunch. “Reach inside Nathan,” Grandpa instructed, “and pull out one thing. Don’t peek!” Grandpa had hidden a few objects inside that bag.…

Writing with Heart

Written by  |  Thursday, 10 February 2011 06:25  |  Published in Early Literacy
by Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist Heart-shaped paper, stickers and paper doilies littered the kitchen table. Glue, scissors and a whole box of markers did too. A class list of names lay on the table between Katie and her mom.  Katie’s mom had written ‘TO’ and left a space at the top of each heart and ‘FROM’ near the bottom. Katie had already printed her name on all 16 valentines but writing friends’ names was hard. She wished more of them began with ‘K’. Katie was proud that she could print her own name. Her mom was too. She had overheard her mom telling Grandpa about Katie printing her ABCs. Her voice had an extra lift in it when she told him the news. Katie prints…

Kids in the Kitchen this Christmas

Written by  |  Thursday, 16 December 2010 05:34  |  Published in Early Literacy
by Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist Ellie Lee was only three when she began to bake. She washed her hands and stood on a chair to reach the kitchen counter. Ellie and her dad had already made homemade granola two days ago. Today, Ellie and her mom were going to make cookie mix. Ellie had a big bowl, measuring cups and spoons, and a big wooden spoon. Ellie’s mom had the recipe written down. She would tell Ellie the next ingredient and hand her the appropriate measuring utensil. Together they would count the correct number of scoops of flour and sugar, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips that Ellie needed to put into the bowl. Ellie’s job was to scoop, pour, count and stir. When…

Picture books can help children learn how to be resilient

Written by  |  Thursday, 25 November 2010 05:38  |  Published in Early Literacy
by Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist Madison’s mom is on tour of duty. She left shortly before Madison started school for the first time. Sometimes Madison misses her mom so much that it hurts inside. Sometimes she tries to picture her mom’s face and can’t. Then she feels scared. Madison doesn’t really understand how long her mom will be away. She knows her mom won’t be home for Christmas and hopes Santa will know how to find her even if Madison has no idea where Afghanistan is. It’s a tough time for Madison, but she and her dad are doing all right. Her dad’s calmness reassures Madison that her mom will be home as soon as she can. By example, her dad shows Madison that when…

It’s Clee with a C

Written by  |  Thursday, 28 October 2010 06:40  |  Published in Early Literacy
by Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist Clee’s mom had found “The Pumpkin Blanket” by Deborah Turney Zagwyn on-line. It was a rare find – a picture book about a girl with the same name as her daughter. Just like her daughter, the story character would soon be going to school for the first time, without her favourite blanket. In the storybook Clee parted with her blanket, bit by bit, protecting twelve pumpkins from frost until Halloween. The book became a much-loved bedtime story, its pages smudged and dog-eared. Clee could find her own name in the print too. Clee knew the names of all the alphabet letters and could recognize a few words by sight. Clee’s ability to match letters with their sounds was just beginning.…

Spending time with dad

Written by  |  Thursday, 09 September 2010 06:44  |  Published in Early Literacy
by Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist Gavin and his dad sat snuggled on top of Gavin’s bed. “In the great green room there was a telephone, and a red balloon, and a picture of the cow jumping over the moon.” The first pages of “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown were open between them as Gavin’s dad began to read. Even though two-year-old Gavin had delayed speech and was receiving support from a speech therapist, he loved books, especially books read to him by his dad. Gavin and his dad looked at each page slowly, discovering all of the things that the rabbit character in the book wanted to say goodnight to before giving in to sleep. “Goodnight stars. Good night air. Good night noises everywhere,”…

Travel Games

Written by  |  Thursday, 22 July 2010 08:30  |  Published in Early Literacy
by Susan Ramsay, Early Literacy Specialist “Are we there yet?” Only ten minutes into a six-hour journey, it may be hard to match your child’s excitement with “Not yet, honey.” But parents who travel with children are resourceful. They know there are more options than mesmerizing children into silence with DVDs or electronic games. Parents haul bags of “travel tricks”. The bags hold CDs or an iPod of music and audio stories – favourites from home or new ones borrowed from the library. The bag holds storybooks, seek-and-find picture books, crayons, paper and a stash of dry Cheerios. The bag holds stickers and page protectors with a magazine picture inside each protector for their child to make up stories by placing and moving stickers on the…
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