Literacy Standards for Preschool Learners

Research has found that many skills of literacy are learned before a student enters school. Different organizations are trying to set early literacy standards to help the accountability of teaching preschoolers. The problem with setting standards for preschoolers is that the standards are different from those of other grades. The standards require defining literacy, redefining early childhood teacher’s role in literacy instruction, and requiring teachers to use instructional strategies specifically designed for young children. The concept of developing appropriate education raises two issues that concern childhood teachers. The first concern is that teaching certain content and skills to young children is dangerous because it makes them hurry, which may damage their ability to learn in later years. The second concern is that child will manifest their literacy development naturally, which causes teachers to wait for children to demonstrate a need to learn literacy skills before beginning instruction. Studies have shown that children must first develop an awareness of certain written and spoken words before they can develop appropriate literacy concepts and skills. This also raises concern about teaching children words that they are most likely to encounter in their classroom or words that they will most likely encounter in books. Developmentally appropriate instructional techniques are appropriate for 1st and 2nd graders as they demonstrate underlying cognitive skills that younger children do not yet possesses. This is shown is studies where students learn the alphabet in order and while pointing to the letters. The teacher of the student assumes that the child can correctly associate the letter name to the letter, but however many kindergartners assigned the letter name incorrectly to the letter either just before or just after the correct letter. Knowing whether children are ready is a difficult question to answer because it requires teacher expertise not just general child development.

Research has found that children make the most gains in learning when they are presented new concepts and skills. The idea of readiness should include not just when the child can start to benefit from exposure but when the technique is no longer beneficial for the child. Most teachers have an optimal window of opportunity, which is a time at which they can have the greatest effect on the child’s literacy learning. If this is applied early or late then the teaching strategy loses its power. To help teachers meet the challenge much staff development is required. The ideal solution is to have an expert in every classroom who helps teachers collect assessment data, update them on research findings, and giving advice on optimal teaching techniques.

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