This week in Early Years, we joined the Primary in celebrating Book Week. But why is reading books so important for Early Years children? Reading is essential for children at this early time in their lives as it develops their speech and helps them to understand words. Spelling, reading, literacy, writing, communication, language and social skills are all developed through stories.
It also provides other opportunities to learn, particularly in F1, through feeling and touching different textures on each page. Education in Early Years is seen as the building blocks for life as children develop more quickly during the first 5 years of their lives. That is why we call it the foundation classes like the foundations of a building.
At school, your children are daily immersed in books and teachers provide opportunities for them to develop their imaginations by role-playing and retelling stories together. All the children usually sit together and share books as a class or in groups. This is a special time where children can listen and respond to the characters and what is happening in the book. For F1, books may include pop-up pages, lift-the-flap pages, noisy pages and textured pictures to help immediately engage them. In F2 and F3, the teachers will use many more actions and sounds to go along with the stories to engage the children.
In terms of reading and literacy here is a guide to explain the various stages of learning that your children may go through over their time in early years.
A child should have an interest in holding and looking at books by this age. It is important they can hold books so they can see what is going on whilst listening to you read the stories. They can learn what books are and play with pages.
By this age most children can identify their favourite books and stories they want to see and hear. They can recognise and mimic actions from their favourite songs and stories. Encourage this by always letting them join in with storytelling and songs, let them point to things they can recognise or make the sounds of things in the book.
By the age of three, children should be able to fill in missing gaps in stories and songs that they have heard repetitively. They have their favourite books and songs and they can help to tell the tale. By pausing during a story they know well you give them the opportunity to fill in the gaps and add more words to their vocabulary.
By four, children should be able to recognise the story being read to them, they can help with telling the story and can anticipate the end of the story. They should be able to join in with rhymes and be able to recognise words that start with the same sound such as ‘big boat’. They should also be able to recognise words that mean something to them, such as their own name or mummy, favourite shops and places.
They can sit and listen for longer and can hold the book correctly and turn pages by themselves.
By the age of five, a child is expected to be able to remember and speak words. Their imaginations and vocabulary mean they are able to tell their own made up stories and can make up their own songs. They will start to use their phonics knowledge to sound out words to read them accurately.
On Tuesday, this week we had a visiting author called Adam Bushnell who came to school and acted out a story about a dragon. The children were enthralled by the noises and actions that he made when telling a story. It really does show us that storytelling does not have to be just about reading books but adults can make them up and use actions to retell them with children.
The classes had visitors from Year 3 and Year 4 where the children had the opportunity to buddy up with the older children and read and share stories with them. All of the children were very excited to share stories and can’t wait to do this again later in the year.
The week ended with a fantastic book week dress up on Friday where everyone could come in dressed up as their favourite book character. The children and staff looked fantastic. Well done to everyone who took part this week!
Research shows that reading is the single most important thing a parent can do to help their child’s education. Every child loves spending time with their parents. Sharing a book together will promote the value and pleasure of reading and encourage an interest in reading throughout their time at school and in their later life.
I will leave you with a final thought and quote from Dr Seuss…
“The more that you read,
the more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
the more places you’ll go.”