The Fallacies of Early Literacy
Our schools and educators have misled us to believe that children who cannot read by the age of 6 or 7 will struggle in school however the truth is that we create their struggles in school by pushing them to read before they are ready. Children who are under 7 are not yet fully grounded in their own bodies they have not yet anchored their physical space and are not ready to enter the logical processes of reading before their 7th birthday.
Children have a natural capacity to learn to read that doesn’t fully evolve until age 9 or 10.
Waldorf teachers believe that a child learns to read much in the same way they learned to walk and speak. Thus the best thing you can do for your child is to read to them often, with love and patience. It is through hearing the rhythm of your reading they will come to understand the meaning of all those marks on the page. It is a gradual unfolding of their logic capacity which begins around their 7th birthday.
Children who see their parents reading and who have been read to are more likely to grow up to become readers themselves. Reading is fun and can help toddlers & preschoolers learn about the world around them. You don’t have to be an expert story teller or reader yourself. Reading slowly and with a bright voice will be all it takes to get your child hooked! Don’t worry if they are not paying attention they can only soak up what is spilled out so just read aloud for your own enjoyment.
Toddlers are busy people, discovering the world makes for a lot to do in one day. Don’t worry if they won’t sit for an entire book their attention spans will grow as you leave them wanting more. Taking a trip to the library and looking for books about things they are interested in can help capture their interest and will become important later on as their interests become more defined.
Don’t stress. Reading should be fun and if it isn’t then put the books away and try another time. Age appropriate materials can help – little toddlers do better with board books and moving up to paper pages for older toddlers. Home-made books also offer the best of both worlds, reading and a craft that you can do together. Clip pictures out of a magazine or use photos of friends and family and paste them onto blank sheets of paper adding a few words to tell a story. You can laminate your books with contact paper found at local craft supply stores to make them last longer. My daughters home made books are some of her favorite ones, she asks “Mommy can we read a special story tonight?” and my heart melts.
Some tips to get you started
- Get comfy!– Find a special chair or place where you can read together.
- Make books accessible– Your child’s books should be where they can get & put them away easily, or read them on their own.
- Read it Again– Once your toddler has heard a book they are sure to ask for it again and again, and that’s ok, it helps their memories (as they try to recall what comes next), confidence (because they know the story) and emotions (when they relate characters in the story to their own lives).
- Use voices– They don’t have to be perfect impressions or even sound different, just different tones or volumes make the story that much more fun for you and your child.
- Point to Pictures & Ask Questions– When you include your child in the story you are showing that you love them and want to hear what they think about the story.
- Ask Questions– What do you think happens next? Where did the monkey go? How many candles are there? Questions like these help your child to think about the story, form opinions, and ask questions of their own.
- Turn the Page– little fingers love to turn pages, let them turn the page (with help if they need it) to keep them involved in the story.