Musical Milestones for Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers
Hosted by Fred Rogers, The Roots of Reading looks at the earliest stages of literacy in such locations as a baby speech lab and a Head Start center. The program examines how parents, childcare providers, and kindergarten teachers can musical Milestones for Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers children started on the road to literacy. This program is the first episode of Launching Young Readers, WETA’s award-winning series of innovative half-hour programs about how children learn to read, why so many struggle, and what we can do to help.
About the program Children learn to speak and walk by instinct. But did you know reading is different? And a child’s first and best teacher is a parent. If you look at youngsters who come into first grade who can read fairly well, watch what their parents do,” says G. Reid Lyon of the National Institutes of Health. Parents can be extraordinarily good teachers.
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Becoming Aware of Print In San Jose, California, 32-month-old Mira gets a head start on reading from her parents. Tuning In To Speech Sounds At a baby speech lab at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, psychologist Janet Werker studies how babies develop skills that distinguish speech sounds of their native language. Encouraging Young Storytellers Two- and three-year-olds benefit from a project based in Washington, D. STORIES, which is built on the premise that when adults respond to a toddler’s efforts to communicate, they increase conversational skills, boost vocabulary, and propel toddlers towards literacy. Reading as Dialogue In a Long Island Head Start classroom, children who are at risk for reading failure boost their reading skills using a technique called “dialogic reading.
The Building Blocks of Reading In Baltimore, a pre-kindergarten program called Children’s Literacy Initiative helps at-risk children meet the school’s high expectations. Reading Together A program called Georgetown Even Start is helping families at risk in Washington, D. Reading is Fundamental develops and delivers children’s and family literacy programs that help prepare young children for reading and motivate school-age children to read. First Book is national non-profit organization whose mission is to provide children from low-income families the chance to read and own their first new books. First Book provides an ongoing supply of new books to children participating in community-based mentoring, tutoring, and family literacy programs.
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Introduction: Roots to Reading Announcer: Funding for the Reading Rockets Launching Young Readers series was provided by the United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. I’m Fred Rogers from the neighborhood. Long ago, I discovered that the best teacher is someone who loves what he or she does. And loves it right in front of children.
Of course, that’s very good news for any book lover who’d like to help a child who is able to learn to read. This five part series is for parents, caregivers and teachers of young children. Two-and-a-half year old Mira couldn’t be getting a better start for life as a reader. She can already name most of the letters of the alphabet. Mira’s dad: Alright, and then finally A, where’s the A? When it’s time to become a reader, she’ll have less to learn because of the head start her parents are giving her.
M for melons and M for Mira! Look we have melons in our list. Mira’s mother does what reading researchers recommend: she finds opportunities to point out print and how it’s used. Mira’s mom: Look Mira, C for cucumber, P for peppers.
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Mira is learning that signs are different from shopping lists, which are different from stories. Mira is also discovering that all of these kinds of writing are made up of words which are in turn are made up of letters. When Mira starts learning to read, she’ll already know a lot about print, much more than she knows about self-control. Mira: I want some of this. Mira is getting such a rich exposure to books and print, it’s clear she can’t wait to read on her own.
In fact, like many children, Mira pretends to read. Her play reading reveals that she already knows how books work. This knowledge comes from watching her parents read to her. And that’s something they do every day. Every evening, after dinner, Mira’s parents switch off the phone and television for reading time.
It’s Mira’s favorite part of the day. Mira’s mom: Eat a good breakfast and don’t forget to wash to dishes. More is going on here than meets the eye. From her mother’s moving finger, Mira learns that the print tells her mother what to say–she doesn’t just make up a story based on the pictures. The details that Mira and her two-month-old brother Vijay are picking up are certainly important. But the most vital lesson this evening may be the simplest: reading is a pleasure. Mira’s mom: His mommy and daddy want him to get his little brother.
Phyllis Hunter: The single most important thing that a parent can do to help a child learn to read is to transmit a love of reading to their children. Let them see you reading as a parent. Let them see that you enjoy and love print. And I say this to parents even if you’re not a reader yourself you can still communicate to your children that books matter. Vijay can’t yet follow the twists and turns of the plot, but he is paying attention to his mother’s voice, tuning his brain to the elementary speech sounds that make up English. He’s already laying the foundations for becoming a reader.
The human voice can produce at least 150 different speech sounds or phonames. English uses only forty or so of these sounds. Janet Worker: Thanks again, Warren, for coming in. Janet Worker wants to know how babies distinguish speech sounds of their native language. Worker: Babies, just like adults, are interested in new information. So when they hear something that’s different from what they’ve been hearing before, their interest perks up.
And you can measure that in a number of ways. You can measure it through their sucking pattern or through their looking time or even through something like a head turn. Worker trains babies to turn their heads whenever they hear a change in sound by rewarding them with a view of a musical bunny. Soon babies are turning their heads the moment they hear a change, anticipating the bunny. Headphones prevent the adults from hearing the speech sounds and accidentally cuing the baby. Worker can now find out if this six month old can hear the difference between two English sounds. She keeps the baby engaged until phonames are played over a speaker.
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This baby can hear the difference between B and D. In fact, even newborns can tell them apart. Next, Worker tests the baby with another pair of sounds. The phoneme will change from one kind of D to another. The two sound distinct to speakers of Hindi, but adults who only speak English can’t hear the difference. The baby hears the difference between the two sounds, one of which she’s never heard before.
By the age of ten to twelve months, infants not regularly exposed to Hindi lose the ability to distinguish these sounds. Twelve months old babies have already become specialists in their native language. We now know that in even very young children, the ability to hear language is highly developed. For parents of future readers, Workers’ research contains an important message. Worker: As a parent, when you’re talking to your infant, you’re not only having a wonderful time and setting up a great emotional relationship, but you might also be providing them with essential information for them to become accomplished readers some several years later.
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Daphne Jones: I think Tyree picked out this book. Did you pick out this book? Daphne: Who picked the book out? At a Maryland day care center, two and three year olds are engaged in conversation by caregiver Daphne Jones.
Daphne: What kind of truck is this? Have you ever been on a Go-cart truck? The truck went up and down. Deborah Jerve Pendergrass is Co-Director of this project called Stories. Jerve Pendergrass: We believe that every child, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, disability, has a story to tell. When adults respond to a toddler’s efforts to communicate, they help the development of spoken language. Jerve Pendergrass has identified fifteen specific cues that adults can watch for.
Jerve Pendergrass: There may be a word, word combinations, a sentence or a series of sentences put together, a gesture, a facial expression, a cry. To train caregivers, she picks out good examples when adults tune into a child or instructive cases when they miss an opportunity to connect. Jerve Pendergrass: And then we have Amber who’s saying, Daphne, we got stuck, got stuck. Jerve Pendergrass: Meaning we got stuck again. But she’s using a two word combination to communicate that story. By opening our eyes to young kids’ efforts to communicate, Jerve Pendergrass hopes to increase conversation, boost vocabulary and propel toddlers towards literacy.
Jerve Pendergrass: With young children, things that we take for granted, for them are important stories and important experiences to share. It’s a gift that we can give our children anytime and anyplace. The only thing that it costs us is our time. Rosemary Wells: A Writer’s Secret Fred Rogers: My father used to leave pennies on windowsills. Because it gave him such pleasure to think to the people who would find them. The children’s author and illustrator Rosemary Wells is a kindred spirit.
She places little delights all through her stories. And she has written more than sixty with unique characters such as Yoko, Noisy Norah and Max and Ruby. Rosemary Wells: Children’s book illustration is much more than drawing. It’s about telling a story narrative and not boring your reader.
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Children’s literature, if it is successful, must appeal to the heart of the child. And that child will grab hold of it and say, “Ma. But you’ve got to appeal enough to the sense of humor and the mother or father or teacher or older brother or grandmother who is reading to that child. Rosemary: One of the things I use is mixed media.
This painting itself has watercolor and a little pastel and some colored pencil. One of the other things I do is save the real line work until the end. I put down the color on a baseline of blue. And then do the line at the very, very end of the drawing. That way it sits between the actual edges of the two colors red and green and just catches the light right.
Rosemary: So you have to keep the pictures moving and interesting and colorful and different from one another. So that each page is a totally different experience and makes the child go ahh rather than ugh. Lisa Thompson: The moments are every day when you arrive at work and you have twenty-five people, small people, waiting for you. When they see you, they smile. And sometimes they forget that I’m teacher.
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Many of these three and four year olds are at-risk for reading failure. And poverty is clearly linked to low reading achievement. But they’re being given a great boost in this Long Island classroom. Literacy preparation isn’t yet common in Head Start programs. But teacher Grace Wilson will use a new method of reading aloud, which increases vocabulary.
Russ Whitehurst, the technique is called dialogic reading. Russ Whitehurst: Dialogic reading is a type of shared book reading that is different in some respects from book reading as you would normally be exposed to. Dialogic reading involves much more frequent verbal interactions, tends to place the child more in the role of the teller of the story and the adult in the role of the listener, the person who listens to the child, who responds to what the child says, who prompts the child to say more. The classes here are small — a key prescription of dialogic reading. Wilson to direct questions to every child. The simplest questions are who, what, when, how many?
Wilson: Anisha, what color are the flowers? Wilson: There was very little grass in the valley. And the Billy goats were so hungry. Wilson uses a completion prompt, a straight forward fill in the blank. Show me something that really looks ugly on this troll. As kids get older, dialogic reading challenges them to connect a story with outside the class experiences. Wilson draws out these links with queries called distancing questions.