I (Yiola) am interested in early literacy for a number of reasons: my area of expertise is elementary education; I was an early years teacher for ten years; my own children are now in early years programs; and, I believe that understanding literacy in the early years is foundational for understanding teaching and learning.
With recent discussions going on about early years literacy programs and talk of play versus direct instruction; and, exploration and social development versus academic rigour (neither of which I believe are true binaries but instead call for a thoughtful consideration of a developmental and critically rich fusion) I am compelled to think about reading in the early years. You see, it seems to me parents are often in a panic if their child is not reading and more and more I am hearing of excited parents proudly sharing that their child was reading at 3 or 4 while other parents are silently panicking if their child is not reading by 6 years of age.
I often think back to when I was a classroom teacher and I recall the complex yet carefully crafted time sensitive processes for reading acquisition. I also clearly remember having a Reading Recovery Program at our school and watching our first and second graders enter and exit the program with a good degree of improvement and development. Most children would come out of reading recovery with gains. The very few who did not required further testing and support that went beyond the readiness phenomenon.
In my readings I came across this interesting article about Reading Recovery and the relevance of levelled texts, phonological processing AND comprehension as all significant components of early reading development.
Here is the article in full: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-9817.12041/epdf
This reading reminded me that there needs to be an amalgamation of approaches and strategies in the early years classroom. More and more I think that the programming and planning of early years teachers is by far their greatest challenge – not deciding upon play versus directed learning – knowing how to plan in ways that are engaging, that tap into curiosities and children’s questions and that allow for literacy rich exploration while also ensuring time for literacy focused experienced.