January has gone in a flash, as it does every year, and it is back to school time once again here in Australia and the southern hemisphere.
Those of us who work in early childhood education know the importance of good preparation for school. At this time of the year, it is useful to stop and reflect on what a difference you are making to children’s lives by delivering quality early education programs.
Early childhood education can be life changing. Literally!
One of the predictors for school success is how ready children are for school when they start. Parents and early childhood education can have a big influence on school readiness and there is plenty of evidence to support this. Socio economic status also plays a role, with children from less advantaged backgrounds often having less access to quality preschool programs and as a result less preparation for school.
Of course we know that the circumstances in which children are born and grow up have an impact on what happens to them at school. However, disadvantage is not destiny and education services and programs can change the path of children’s lives for the better, especially in those early years before school.
As renowned researcher Sir Michael Marmot states, ‘The best intervention to improve education is to start before school age.’
Did you know that education is also good for your health?
Education enables us to gain skills, knowledge and a better ability to have control over our lives. Educational outcomes determine to a large extent what happens to our lives after school – what work we do, where we live and our standard of living. All of these factors or ‘social determinants’ also influence our health. People with higher levels of education enjoy better health and have a longer life expectancy.
See – I told you that early education can be life changing!
Preparing children for school and reading
It is exciting and rewarding to send children off to school equipped with the skills they need to be happy, confident and successful students.
In order to be ready to learn how to read, children need to have a range of skills and, as I mentioned earlier, it is best that they have these skills well before they arrive at school on Day 1! Early childhood educators are perfectly placed to teach these skills.
Generally children who learn to read easily will be able to:
- Enjoy being read to/listening to stories
- Know how to handle books
- Hold the book right way up and know where the story starts
- Recognise everyday signs, logos and words such as their own name
- Try to write their own name or other ideas by using symbols or letters
- Draw a picture to express an idea
Most importantly, children who are ready to learn how to read will understand that words contain individual sounds. This is known as phonological or sound awareness. Children from the age of 3 years start to understand that a word is made up of syllables and single
sounds. For example cat-a-pi-llar = caterpillar or d-o-g = dog. Children who have phonological or sound awareness skills when they start school will have more success learning to read than children who don’t have these sound awareness skills.
Programs that teach children sound awareness significantly improve children’s readiness for reading compared to programs that don’t pay attention to sound awareness.
Phonological awareness skills on school entry include the following:
- Understand concepts such as ‘first’ and ‘last’ and understands words such as ‘sound’,
- Can say the alphabet or part of the alphabet
- Identifies some letters and some of the sounds they make
- Understands and enjoys rhyming
- Shows an interest in words and sounds
- Has awareness of first sounds of words, for example ‘mummy’ starts with ‘m’
Are you interested in boosting your school readiness activities?
At Sounds good to me we believe that all children deserve the best start in life. Learn how to teach phonological (sound) awareness with one of our programs.
The Sounds good to me course is designed for use in early childhood services and centres. It provides both excellent professional development for your team as well as everything you need to implement a fun, play based program of lessons and activities suitable for your 3-5 year group.
Would you like to learn simple and effective ways you can help your child be ready for school?
Sounds good to me – for parents was created by Speech Pathologists covering all aspects of early literacy (language and reading) skills that your child needs before they start school. Each video comes with downloadable games, activities and information.
Does this sound good to you?
Foskey, L. & Williams, A. (2020). Sounds good to me program guide. © HealthWISE
Marmot, M. (2015). The Health Gap; The challenge of an unequal world. Bloomsbury.