Envision a bookshelf containing three shelves. The first shelf holds real objects and photos of real objects. On the second shelf there are photos and words about the objects. The final shelf contains books.
Utilizing this concept, adults can easily identify with different materials that can be used to teach kids. The shelves are also intended to be steps of learning language for children. The youngest children need to see, touch, feel and taste real objects. They learn about objects through the senses.
At the lowest level, consider teaching about an apple. The youngest children (ages birth to 2 or 2.5 years old) need to explore the object through touch, taste, sight, sound and smell. In this lesson, give your child an apple and show him how it looks. Let him see the inside of the apple; show him where the seeds are and how the inside is white. Explain what the stem is and show where the leaves are (if they are still on the apple). Discuss how apples come in many colors including red, yellow and green.
You can also make this lesson come to life by visiting an apple orchard and picking your own apples. To fortify the lesson, read about apples or show your child pictures of apple farmers. Two books we suggest are “The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree” and “Ten Apples Up On Top!” The more you give your child experiences and language associated with specific objects the more you are building his brain.
When your child reaches 2.5 to 3 years of age, it is time to use the second shelf. This is where you will find pictures and words about objects. Real objects are still used by the child, but now he understands what the object looks, smells, tastes, feels and sounds like. These elements are well wired into his brain so it’s now appropriate to introduce words and letters to match the objects. In this stage, write a word to go along with the picture of the object and label your item, for instance a book. By putting the word “book” next to an actual book, your child makes the connection that the two items go together and names match objects.
Explain to your child that just as he has a name, objects in our lives also have names, such as “tree,” “coat” and “plate.” It is important to write out the word in front of your child, as this will reinforce that people write words. If you use too many computer-generated or typed words children start to think that only computers write words. Watching a caregiver write the word helps children understand how and why we learn to write.
The third shelf is for older children who can proficiently use words to understand what the letters mean and which words describe which objects. Through books and words, children at this level are learning to read and write. Thus, this shelf is typically for elementary students who are starting to read.
Have fun using your imaginary bookshelf to learn language this week!
© Let’s Talk Kids, 2012