Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Shout Out To Some Language Learning Peeps

A few posts that I think are great....
  • Jenae at I Can Teach My Child discusses the value of wordless picture books, and I couldn't agree with her more! In Books, Toddlers, and Language, I told you how sometimes it's best to ignore the words in a book and just describe the pictures instead; wordless picture books make it super duper easy to do just that. When looking at these books with beginning language learners, you can use use simple language modeling as your little one flips through the pictures at his own rate. Then, as he grows into his preschool years, you can help your child's imagination grow along with his language as you teach him to weave the pictures together into stories.
  • Allison at No Time For Flashcards hosts her weekly Link-n-Learn, where over 80 blogs link up their best posts of the week (I may or may not be one of the blogs that likes to link-n-learn). The links are chock full of fun activities into which all kinds of language can easily be worked. Her website is also an amazing resource of books and crafts, sorted by category. 
  • Lisa over at The Huffington Post touches on why parents of babies and toddlers shouldn't feel pressure to fall into the "teach your baby to read" craze. Teaching your baby to read might sound pretty awesome, but many researchers believe that drilling a child with flashcards only teaches him to respond rotely to symbols that he can't really yet understand.  They worry that doing so takes away from the rich language-based conversations about the world that is flowing around him.  Instead of drilling with flashcards, engaging your child in simple conversations about the things that interest him will help him develop the full meaning of the vocabulary words he will need to understand his reading later on--when he's really ready to read. Language and love in the early years will give way to smarts and reading the the elementary ones. 



  1. My dad has deep beliefs about the teaching your baby read craze because it is more like rote memorization. My father never learned phonics as a child because the school of thought in the early 50s where he lived was just memorize the words because kids could do that easily. Well, nobody thought about the downfall in that, which is when you run into a new word, you have no idea what it is nor how to figure it out. This has left my father self-conscious his entire life. So, when he sees the commercials touting parents to teach their children to memorize words on a card, rather than learning to figure out the word, he gets upset. Luckily, for these children, they will have further schooling that should help with the basics in sounding out words, but how much will be lost when they've already memorized most of the words semi-big regular words used to teach phonics?

  2. Interesting story and great points! Reading instruction seems to swing to such extremes at times (e.g. whole reading vs. phonics) and I think it is the extremes that create problems. My son is in kindergarten now and they do such a beautiful job of weaving in different strands of different approaches-- phonics, sight words (which are learned by memorization), whole language experiences, etc. I am hopeful that all schools are doing this now-- taking the best pieces of all the strategies we have available to us, using them, and then individualizing by focusing on the approach that works best for each individual child. (All this said with the disclaimer that I am NOT a reading teacher and so really, this is my opinion only!! Take it with a grain of salt.)

    But back to teaching toddlers to read-- I do think it is just rote memorization and there is so much time for that in the school years. IMHO, toddlers just need to be immersed in language in the context of activities with those they love. That will lay the groundwork for everything else to come. :)