Language plays a very important role in communication. Parents and educators, therefore, do everything possible to ensure that children develop language and literacy as early as possible. However, language development and literacy must be learned through reading. Reading incorporates involves both visual and auditory perceptions. Language and reading are intertwined in that language depend on reading, but then can easily pick out visutten information faster than written information. With the rapidly changing structure of technology and information, visual information has become predominant. It has hence become a mode of communication in early child learning institutions. Before children are able to interpret visual information long before they are able to interpret sounds. As such children have been exposed to a lot of visual information such s images. The exposure of a high number of images to children is proof that visual literacy is essential in obtaining information from children and also in the development of their language. Just like other forms of literacy, educators don’t hand visual literacy to children. Instead, children try on their own to come up with the meanings of various visual input. Children, therefore, use visual literacy in their quest to become literate and develop language.
Benefits And Potential Risks Of Visual Literacy
Benefits Of Visual Literacy
Visual literacy is the foundation on which learning is based. Children are able to read pictures with ease before they are finally introduced to verbal skills. Visual literacy improves the learning experience of children (Elkins, 2007). Engagement of children in visual literacy generally encourages the children to critically examine the visual pictures and finally interpret their meaning. Visual literacy has become very important today given the fact that visual content has increased considerably. Most of the books that children are exposed to in the institutions of early learning are loaded with images which the children are expected to learn. The current technologies such as televisions also expose children to a lot of visual images Educationists encourage visual literacy because it develops critical thinking and problem-solving skills in children (Otto, 2015). Some of the visual literacy includes images and gestures among others. Children become critical users of visual materials because they are common. However, it should be noted that children would not be able to develop appropriate visual literacy skills if they are not provided with instructions regarding what they are expected to do. Children do not take anything the come their way on a serious note. They are not able to figure out whatever they should do once they are exposed to visual literacy. It is, therefore, necessary for lessons to be set up so that the skills that enhance visual literacy in children can be taught (Baylen & D'Alba, 2015).
(How Does Visual Literacy Help The Children Learn And What Skills Enhance Visual Literacy)
Potential Risk Of Visual Literacy
Despite the many benefits of visual literacy, it is risky for earners to depend entirely on it. Most of the instructions that are provided in early-childhood classroom set-up are delivered orally. Learners who depend entirely on visual learning would hence struggle in learning environments that are predominantly lecture-based ( Eilam, 2012). It is advisable that instructor should avoid the use of lecture method so that children are not left behind. (Smith, Moriarty, & Kenney, 2014). Children will then be in a position to see and process all the information that is relayed to them.
Learning Experiences That We Provide In The Early Childhood Setting For Children’s Language And Literacy Development
Being an early childhood setting, we play a very important role in the development of the children’s language and literacy. It is during this period of a child’s life that is very crucial in his or her brain development. The kind of experience that children are offered during this period of time would significantly contribute to their future success. In our early childhood setting, we are doing everything possible to ensure that the young children develop social skills so that they are able to develop and engage in successful relationships. We also develop the language skills of the children so that that can be in a position to communicate effectively and also develop the literacy skills that would assist them in academic learning. One of the learning experiences that develop language is the provision of an open and friendly environment where learners are able to interact among themselves.
We have created a learning environment in our early childhood set-up that provides a lot of learning opportunities (Anderson, Anderson, Hare, & Mct, 2015). The environment that we provide enables our teachers to interactively engage all the children who are under our care. We have put in place several programs and resources that promote early childhood development. We have lessons whereby learners are taken through learning of visual images. We have several books that contain images. In addition, there are a lot of artwork that has been done on our walls.
Our aim is to equip the children with knowledge, skills and resource tool necessary for language and literacy learning. We, therefore, make it fun such that every child would greatly enjoy his or her stay in the early childhood learning environment. The identified programs and resources that we provide for our learners enhance their learning opportunities There are also daily routine activities that the learners are undertaken through. For example, they are expected to explain the meanings of images that are drawn on their class walls. We have employed highly trained consultants in early childhood education. The consultants have been able to use evidence-based development programs (Anthony, 2016). Some of the programs that have been used include a connection with communities, use of play cards and posters (Australian government, 2017).The programs enable our educators to use interactive strategies that promote language development among the children
The brains of children develop rapidly during early childhood period and that provides a foundation upon with their successful learning will be based. The interactions that our teachers have with the children greatly influence how the children develop and how they undertake their learning process (Hoff, 2013). Following that, early childhood educators at our facility engage in a lot of interactions with the children. The interactions are aimed at supporting the growth and development of the children. The major area that we are paying a lot of attention in is in the area of children’s language and communication. Research has in the past shown that teachers play a very crucial role in stimulating children during their early years. Teachers engage in a lot of activities that promote the development of children’s language skills during their stay at the early childhood facility (Anthony, 2016). Our teachers ask a lot of questions to the learners engage them in positive talk and also respond to the vocalization of the learners. The children have in the process have been able to learn more words over short durations.
There are a number of activities that are carried out on a routine basis to improve the language and literacy of the learners who are at our early childhood learning environment. The activities include:
- Responding to the speech and vocalisationof the children by communicating back to them whenever they produce vocalisations
- Engaging the children more in talks for example involving them in story-telling.
- Using rich vocabulary of words and grammar among the children Paying close attention to the learners by listening to their concerns
- Providing more information regarding objects, events, and emotions to the learners
The listed interactions are of great benefit to the early childhood learners irrespective of their language and culture. By making use of the strategies ad practices, the educators at our early childhood centre provide rich language exposure to the children. The language and literacy of the children are hence developed faster. Early childhood children easily comprehend, interpret and understand the pictures that they see. For this reason, we have provided many drawn pictures of common objects so that the children can continue to learn. The information presented by the pictures improves the visual literacy of the young children.
Implications Of Culture And Home Language For Literacy Learning And Teaching
Culture and home language bring a lot of implications for literacy learning and teaching. It is necessary for teaching resources to be used in supporting language and literacy for children from diverse cultural backgrounds and home languages. The children may feel isolated and unable to communicate their ideas. We, therefore, have to find ways in which the children can communicate to their peas and teachers. We intend to use books which are written in different languages. An example of the book that we would use is picture books that are non-fiction for example “Teaching visual literacy” by Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher (Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher, 2008). The book can be purchased from bookstores across the world such as Amazon online bookstore.
The books are also available in most of the libraries across the world. Early childhood learning centres should appreciate the varying diversities of their learners. The educators in early childhood setups should not discriminate some learners because they come from particular cultures or because they speak some particular different languages. The book provides several images that are commonly found in different cultural setups across the world. By exposing children to the images that they are familiar with, they will feel at home. They will hence make a lot of contribution during their learning processes. Some of the learning experiences that children undergo when they use the books include the following
- They are motivated to discover more things by observing common images in the books
- The curiosity of the children is developed and they attempt to try new ideas
- Children develop more interactions among themselves by sharing what images that they read from the books(Australian government, 2017)
Early childhood institutions should employ educators who would be able to communicate to the learners in their various languages. Educators who speak English only would hence be assisted with their fellows who are multi-lingual. That would instill confidence in the learners and they will develop the feeling that they are loved in the places. In addition, the learners would be able to communicate to the learners in their languages that they understand better. They would hence be able to openly express their needs and wants. There are books in libraries that provide explanations of the various cultures. Early childhood centres should have libraries that are well stocked with books of varying languages that can be used to teach early childhood learners. Young children are exposed to aspects of language long before they can start their learning in early childhood centres. The exposure is done within their home setups. The children would acquire basic knowledge when they are still at home. They become knowledgeable about letters and a few words in their mother tongue. However, when they finally start attending early childhood learning centres, they realize that some of the things that they are taught in regard to reading and writing are completely different from the knowledge that they had earlier acquired while in their homes. They also realise that some of their fellows speak different languages.
Learners from diverse cultures and languages require that their parents come on board and provide explanations to the teachers in regard to their varying languages. It is hence much easier for children from one culture to develop literacy skills as opposed to children from different cultural backgrounds (Makin, Jones-Diaz, & McLachlan, 2007). A different approach must, therefore, be used in developing communication and literacy skills among children from different cultural backgrounds. Parents of children from different languages and culture have great influence on the literacy practices of their children. The parents must, therefore, collaborate with early childhood teachers in teaching language and literacy to their children. Parents can do this by re-enforcing ideas that have been taught to their children. Educationists should not disregard the role that parents play within their home in developing the literacy skills of their children (Chu & Wu, 2017). Parents are the very first people that provide a link between their children and their literacy development.
Teachers are tasked with the responsibility of taking their time to understand the literacy experiences that parents expose their children to while they are still at their care within their homes. For example, the words that are first taught to learners by their parents. However, due to the discontinuity that exists between the homes of learners and the learning cultures in early childhood centres, teachers are unable to collect the necessary information. Availability of the information would enable them to develop the literacy skills of children from diverse cultures. It has also been established that children who have been raised in the mainstream society have literacy experiences which are better than those children from backgrounds of culture and literature diversity (Crowell, 2004). The difference may result in poor academic performance among the young children from diverse cultures and linguistic backgrounds. In addition, such children may develop an inferiority complex when they are in the company of other children. Their well-being may hence be greatly affected. Such children may feel uncomfortable given that educationists would easily refer to them as special pupils in the event that they experience difficulty in reading (Chu & Wu, 2017).
In order to effectively manage early childhood classrooms, the teacher must be in a position to understand the distinctive ways in which their learners express themselves (Neuman & Dickinson, 2011). However, if the children are from diverse communities, then their teachers would not be in a position to understand their needs and wants. There are communities that ensure that their children don’t attend early childhood centres as empty vessels which are yet to be filled with knowledge. They bring their children to the educational centres when they are rich in cultural experiences and language as well. Teachers are therefore forced to reach out to the community members so that they are able to integrate the cultural of various communities into the education syllabus in the early childhood centres (Chu & Wu, 2017).
In addition, it is important to note that early childhood teachers are expected to offer language support to the children whom they teach. The children come to the centres when they have already learned some languages from their home setups. Teachers should input some codes to the learners’ languages (Eldering & Leseman, 2002). Examples of codes that may be used are for example “a”, “b”, “c” and many such that each code has a meaning. The learners should then be assisted on how they can use the new codes to communicate. Finally, standardised assessments should not be used to evaluate learners from different cultures and language (Anderson, Anderson, Hare, & Mct, 2015). Teachers should understand the individual difference of the learners based on their cultural backgrounds. The task is very challenging because teachers also have to ensure that they do not exercise biases in the assessment of the learners. Any form of bias would be regarded as a weakness on the side of the teachers (Ursyn, 2015). Everyone in the society assumes that teachers are professionals who should not make any mistake in their profession. Teachers must, therefore, trade on the thin line because apart from being teachers they also play a parental role to the learners in early childhood learning centres.
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