They’re not exactly like breathing in and breathing out, but they are close enough. For this discussion of reading and writing, each is important to the other and both are critical to lifelong learning and personal growth…for preschoolers.
Of course all of this can begin very early, and with children fortunate enough to have been:
- Read to early-on by adults who then enjoy relaxedly conversing with them about the stories and characters, particularly if those books are…
- Chosen by the child each day from a growing collection of personally treasured (even if secondhand) books, and…
- This is expanded and amplified by inviting caring family members and friends to send the child simple little love notes and invitations to spend delightful time together, and then requesting return correspondence from the kids.
With these simple pieces in place daily, the stage is set for such children to “blow the doors off” of Kindergarten when they enter formal schooling.
While this sounds straightforward, the key to this promise of success is that the child eagerly participates in those quiet book sharing times and in those exhilarating note writing experiences.
Again, it’s not just what kids take in, but also what they do with those book experiences with their own print. Time spent daily reading–first to, then with–a child must absolutely not be seen as some kind of “have-to” or “let’s-get-this-over-with” event. These times should be experienced as opportunities for closeness and discovery between loving family members. In their sharing around the delightful characters and surprising events in stories and reflecting upon the eye-opening information found in factual books that the youngster selects, in the love notes received and in the scrawled letters and drawings that are sent, childhood literacy grows.
Then, as a 3-year-old spends time and energy sending a message to grandma, a favorite uncle, or to an older sibling away each day at school, especially if composed with an attentive adult who is also writing a note to a friend (whether composed by hand or by keyboard), the focus becomes the importance and value of using writing to initiate contact and build trusting and enduring relationships with beloved others.
The breathing in of wonderful story narratives or the soaking up of eye-opening information is complemented and enhanced with the breathing out of sharing those experiences, both through print and in conversation with others.
The lessons these simple daily experiences can teach include that:
- Books are fun to read and share
- Books are full of delights and wonders
- Book choices for me always keep expanding
- Writing reaches others who can’t see me
- Writing lets others send me messages of love
- MY writing is a treat for loved ones
Arriving at Kindergarten having enjoyed hundreds of book reads, regular experience with personal messaging, and hours of conversations about people, places, things and ideas learned from books, little ones are off the launch pad to school…and life…a growing literacy success long before their first day of school.