Literacy skills are a vital part of your child’s overall development, providing the foundation for doing well at school, socialising with others and developing independence.
Children can significantly improve their literacy skills by taking part in 'active play' which can include both structured and unstructured activities which take place within a rich, stimulating environment both indoors and out.
A stimulating space can be created using a range of First-play® equipment, specifically designed to help children develop basic literacy skills through fun activity. The advantage of First-play® equipment is that it allows teaching to be taken out of the classroom, meaning children will not only learn literacy but also keep active through physical play.
First-play® provides a range of balls, cones, play mats and beanbags to help promote literacy. Below, we take a look at 6 ways adults can help to improve a child's literacy.
- Be a role model
Adults can support a child's exploration by being active role models. They should engage in play themselves and demonstrate different ways of playing to a child. For pre-school aged children, it is not essential that they learn to throw a ball using the correct arm and body movements, moreover, children should be encouraged to throw and roll balls in a variety of different ways. The First-play Alphabet Vinyl Playballs each come with a clear printed letter of the alphabet in upper and lowercase. Whilst having fun playing, these balls can also be used for cross circular activities to help children with basic literacy.
- Provide stimulation outdoors
A stimulating outdoor space for pre-school aged children will include playground equipment such as swings, climbing frames, rope ladders and so on, but you can also create a naturally stimulating environment by taking children on walks through the countryside, encouraging them to climb up hills, roll down them, jump over small ditches and so on. Remember that the outdoors is a child's biggest playground, and through gentle encouragement, children's physical literacy can be stimulated by teaching them about the different environments they see, encouraging them to be active and explore their abilities.
- Building the blocks for literacy
Before a child learns to read and write, they need to develop the building clocks for literacy, which include gaining the ability to speak, listen, understand, watch and draw. In time, a child can then understand the connection between letters on a page and spoken sounds. To enable this to happen effectively, the child will need plenty of experience with letters and words and their shapes, sounds and names. The First-play Alphabet Play Mat is a fun way for pre-school children to develop these skills. It can also double up as a target mat with the use of First-play Alphabet Beanbags which reinforce basic literacy skills.
- Use stories & movies
Use stories as a way of introducing words to your child that they may not discover in everyday conversation. Add questions to your storytelling, for example, what should the little girl do next? This enables your child to practice their speech but also to develop skills in comprehension. Whilst you're watching TV or a movie with your child, you could also make a habit of hitting the pause button at regular intervals and asking them for their reaction to an event, for example, was the part just watched funny, or sad etc. When a program has finished talk about what happened in the story and how it ended.
- Focus on sounds
Sounds are another important building block for a pre-school child's development of literacy. Teaching children how words can rhyme, begin and end with the same letters and be broken up into parts to form different sounds will help to prepare your child for school where they will start to learn the more formal aspects of literacy. You can help your child's development of sounds by simply communicating with them, reading with them and teaching them about sounds in a way that is fun for both of you. Some parents may feel they haven't got time for literacy activities such as this, but you only really need to take 5 minutes out of your day to make a real difference.
- Encourage team games
There is a variety of ways you can develop a child's literacy by encouraging them to take part in team games either at school or at after-school club or pre-school clubs. Franchises such as Socatots and Enjoy-a-ball have become highly popular clubs for pre-school aged children and above to develop their learning in a fun and relaxed manner. Teaching aids such as the First-play A-Z Alphabet Cones can be used in clubs to create a variety of literacy based team games, or for more advanced aged children, the First-play Literacy Cones contain vowel and consonant cones in different colours which can be used for many variations of learning activities both indoors and outdoors.