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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Cultural Literacy

Literacy is more than reading. Did you know it took thousands of years for humans to develop the system of written symbols? The truth is, literacy begins as basic communication and efforts to interact with others. When babies coo, and initiate meaningful eye contact with parents and caregivers this is the beginning of literacy. With all of the resources available today, it is tempting to download the latest reading app or game to teach letters and "reading" skills to children. 
These educational tools, while they seem to work for their purpose, lack human communication in fullness which includes tone, intonation, facial expression, body language, cultural context and complete sensory input.  How and why then do we expect something that is taught dynamically, to be learned electronically? How can we expect children to become literate solely through alphabet training and practice work?
Below is the iceberg concept of culture. Ponder this:
Image result for iceberg concept of culture
 A wise adult uses all that family culture and society provides to teach and create meaningful and purposeful communication experiences. These experiences vary, and set the tone for foundational literacy and future reading and writing experiences. In Montessori classrooms, we lay the foundation of phonics, functions of words and fine motor development, at home you can teach your child the cultural aspects of communication and voila, we find literacy is a partnership!
 Here are the 4 aspects of Montessori language training to incorporate at home.
*these come from the very first page of my Montessori Language album* 

1.       True Stories

·         Parallel to all language work

·         Each story lasts no more than 5-7 minutes

·         Tell the story rather than read it

·         Begin with stories of known people such as family members.
EXAMPLE: "Great grandma cooked gravy in a big pot and ladled it over my potatoes. I loved seeing the steam rise and I couldn't wait to taste such a savory dish!"
move on to artists, composers, explorers, or inventors as your child shows interests.


2.       Poems and Rhymes

·         Words to songs are taught as first poems

·         Invite your child to act out poems

·         Change your tone and intonation

·         Recite a new poem each week

3.       Self-Expression

·         Encourage your child to be a part of natural conversation

·         Begin by modeling, telling something that happened during your day

·         Never require your child to talk, as listening is part of conversation

 4.       The Questions Game

·         Play games such as knock-knock (your child stands on one side of the door and knocks. You ask “who is it?” Your child answers with his or her name. You pretend to try and recall who they are and ask them to describe themselves. “How old are you?” “What are you wearing?” “What color is your hair?”

·         Begin with simple elaboration and move towards guiding your child to answer in complete sentences.