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Reflections Magazine : Reflections Magazine Issue 55 Winter 2014
Step 3: Take a balanced approach to language and literacy development Be very clear about what you mean when talking with parents about a balanced approach to language and literacy development. I remember once being asked when I would be 'doing letterland' (a commercial phonics program) in my class with 4 to 5 years olds. When I explained that I wouldn't, something in my demeanour or explanation created a barrier with that parent that took time to resolve. In retrospect, my surprise that a 3 year old was 'doing' a formal phonics program in long day care probably registered in my face and manner. In hindsight I wonder how I could have done things differently. Perhaps if I had asked the parent to share her child's experiences, and had given her a stronger sense of valuing her question, things might have started more smoothly. Reassuring her that phonics is one important aspect of my play-based language and literacy program, would also have helped this parent. Listening without judging was a valuable lesson learned, one that I have not forgotten. When talking with parents about a balanced approach to early language and literacy development I draw on the work of Konza (2011). Konza describes a balanced program as one that promotes the following practices: • establishing strong social relationships with children that draw on their experiences and prior-knowledge, strengths and interests; • concentrating on the development of social communication skills in contextually meaningful ways (pragmatic language skills); • enhancing vocabulary development; • developing phonological awareness; • developing letter-sound awareness (phonics); • creating literacy rich environments where literacy use is purposeful and meaningful. I also explain the fact that Konza's balanced approach to language and literacy development will occur through my play-based program that is designed to support children's interests, strengths and dispositions towards learning. In a follow-up article I will provide explanations and examples of what a balanced approach to early language and literacy development looks and sounds like in practice. Incorporating professional vignettes and suggestions from the field, the next article draws together socio-cultural theory and pedagogy. Exploring Konza's six elements of a balanced language and literacy program, the examples provided will assist teachers to articulate practices with parents, families and communities. References: Konza, D, (2011). Supporting Oral Language and Reading development in the Early Years. Spotlight research into practice: research monograph 5, Victorian Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat, February: 2. Lynch, J., Anderson, J., Anderson, A & Shapiro, J. (2006). Parents' beliefs about young children's literacy development and parents literacy behaviours, Reading Psychology, 27 (1): 1-20. Queensland Studies Authority. (2010). Queensland Kindergarten learning guideline. Retrieved from: http://www.qsa.qld.edu.au/downloads/early_middle/qklg.pdf Queensland kindergarten learning guideline, Professional development resources (2011). Supporting language and early literacy practices in kindergarten retrieved from: http://www.qsa.qld.edu.au/downloads/p_10/qklg_pd_resource_ supporting_literacy.pdf Raban, B & Coates, H. (2004). Literacy in the Early Years: A follow up study, Journal of Research in Reading, 27 (1): 15-29. 7
Issue 56 Spring 2014
Reflections Magazine Issue 54