We hope you and your young child had a wonderful time at the Week of the Young Child Sing-a-long. We always have fun getting together with families and their children in this great literacy activity. All of us in the Rusk County Children’s Council highly value the sing-a-long.
Songs and fingerplays are a staple in our literacy diet. For the fun of writing today’s column I will use a visual analogy–a pyramid. At the base of our literacy pyramid is talking with your child. It is the first and most important aspect of growing a child who loves to read. This literacy strategy begins even before birth, simply by the fact that the fetus can hear somewhere between four and five months. After birth, mothers, fathers, and caregivers use sort of a magic potion to increase the newborn’s attention to communication. This magic potion is called motherese and is simply a strategy for varying the pitch of your voice and using gestures and changes in your eyes and face. All of these things signal the baby to pay attention by giving the message, “This is interesting!”
On the middle level of the pyramid are the songs, fingerplays, and language games we play with babies. Peek-a-boo is one of the earliest games. You can see yourself using motherese when you do peek-a-boo or the game, ‘how big is baby?’ ‘Soooo Big!’ Songs and fingerplays build upon the language we use when we talk to our babies, adding music, repetition, and gestures or movement. When children pay attention to fingerplays that are really little stories, they are building their attention span for the highest level of our pyramid: listening to stories in books.
Reading books together with a parent and then alone is at the top of our pyramid. If you are an avid reader now in your life, you know that your own parents built a strong pyramid for you when you were a baby.
Pretty little dandelion
Yellow, yellow flower mine
When your head turns into seeds
Puff, puff, puff
Blow in the breeze!
Sign “yellow” , Blow instead of speaking the words, “puff, puff, puff.”