“If we broaden the definition, reading and writing happen very early in life,” said Alan Guttman, recently retired Director of Early Childhood Policy and Systems at Johns Hopkins University School of Education. “This is also the beginning of child engagement. They’re not just looking at the pictures.”
Childcare Resources hosted Guttman for a professional development workshop focused on supporting literacy and child engagement. Funded by Indian River County Children’s Services Advisory Committee and PNC Grow up Great, The Importance of Child Engagement in Play and Early Learning and Emergent Literacy was attended by more than 135 educators representing thirty-six local centers.
In the morning, educators focused on supporting emergent literacy, both in the classroom and with the families of their students.
“We can reassure parents that reading and writing develop concurrently,” said Guttman. “But some children may prefer one to the other.”
To support emergent literacy, teachers explored how to incorporate developmentally-appropriate practice including filling their classrooms with writing materials and functional print, like labels and schedules. Classroom literacy centers were also featured, including guidance on how to select appealing and age-appropriate books. Additionally, Guttman highlighted how teachers can support parents in developing literacy-building activities at home.
In the afternoon, educators explored the levels and methods of child engagement, including how a child engages with their teacher, their peers, and their tasks. In additional to discussing how child engagement can be an indicator of program quality, Guttman provided tips and advice in how to balance intentionality and interactions to promote child engagement.
“The most valuable aspect I learned is that literacy develops from real life situations in which reading and writing are used to get things done,” said one attendee, a teacher of three-year-olds. “Literacy is functional, meaningful, and authentic.”
Childcare Resources early education coaches will be distributing technical assistance, including materials for activities that support literacy, to attendees. Childcare Resources’ next workshop, Simple Interactions, will feature Dr. Dana Winters, Executive Director of the Fred Rogers Institute. Registration for the February 11th workshop will open soon.