This was written for my CUED 6340 class at Tech.
The ability to fluently speak, read, write, and comprehend language is without question, the most important skill for academic success. Literacy undergirds not only every academic subject but most aspects of daily life, and one cannot be expected to fully succeed without the ability to interpret the information with which they are presented.
Literacy can be shaped from the moment a child is aware of their surroundings. It is crucial then that children are exposed to visual and audio stimuli frequently. Unfortunately, what was once the reading of a book to a child has devolved into the playback of television programs. Actively-involved family members are a crucial fragment in the development of life’s most important skill.
Our world not being the literate utopia I wish it were, many children enter their formal education either entirely or woefully unprepared for the challenges they face. Our kindergarten programs should accommodate for this disparity by presenting students with a combination of strategies for building literacy including practice in phonology, whole-word reading, spelling, writing, and public speaking. Accompanying these common practices should be specific training in listening and critical thinking. Reading without comprehension and hearing without listening negate the benefits of literacy.
Children should acquire their literacy in a supportive and appropriately corrective environment. Students should not be singled out for errors in pronunciation or interpretation unless it severely affects the context of the word. Individual and small group feedback would not only personalize feedback but would likely result in higher self-esteem and prompter identification of potential developmental delays or learning disabilities.
Children benefit by being placed within competency groups where instruction may be more differentiated, but ample opportunities should be given to interact with others in literacy study to foster an environment of support and acceptance among a class.
In closing, children who complete their primary education with a well-rounded and grade appropriate (or higher) level of competency in speaking, writing, and reading comprehension are exponentially more likely to succeed in their elementary and secondary education, laying the groundwork for metamorphosis into lifelong learners.
“How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden
“Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.” – Sir Francis Bacon