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The EYLF explains that literacy develops from birth as humans strive to express feelings, exchange thoughts and connect with others through gestures, sounds and language. From infancy, children use sound, gesture and body language to communicate their needs and feelings.

At One World for Children we are aware of how amazing babies and toddlers are at communicating.

This early learning is the beginning of a child’s awareness of sound and educators at One World support this by singing songs, jingles and rhymes as they change, wash and feed the babyRound and round the garden, like a teddy bear ... As children grow and develop, adults continue to play with sounds, drawing children’s attention to patterns of repeated letters and words and making up rhymes.

As Christine Topfer (2007, p. 4) explains: ‘Playing with rhymes helps children learn about sounds. It is an important part of tuning a child’s ear to the rhythms and sound patterns of language.’ As children learn more words, they take turns in a conversation and begin telling stories: As they become proficient in oral language, children begin to learn polite forms of language and how to show empathy and concern:

Maria not here today; she sick. Did mummy tell you? I pick a flower for Maria.

The arts (music, dance, drama, visual arts and media) provide powerful ways to communicate. Sometimes, the arts can be used to express when words are not available, or are inadequate.

One World for Children makes a feature of music and movement and children explore many different instruments. The centre also provides a wonderful range of visual arts materials for the children to experiment with such as paint, chalk and crayons.

Puppetry, role play and dramatic play are vehicles through which young children reflect on, represent and communicate their experiences. At One World we have a large range of finger puppets, large puppets and even hand puppets that the staff have made. We also have many other props for play such as rope dolls. Often through this play we notice children have:

As children grow and develop in stimulating literacy environments, they begin to associate sounds with letters of the alphabet. As children become familiar with print in the environmentin magazines, posters and catalogues, and on shop signs, buses and public buildingswe talk about words which have the same letters. Often, their own name has special significance and children notice the starting letter of their own and their friends’ names. We help them to ‘do different kinds of writing’making lists, composing messages and making purposeful signs and labels.

Making marks in various waysin the sand, on paper, in chalk on concrete teaches children that signs and symbols communicate meaning; drawing and scribbling lead to writing. Over time, children learn that writing is a particular kind of symbol system that carries a message from one place and one person to another. The foundations of reading lie in storyrecounting stories from our own experience, retelling

traditional tales and making up stories. Throughout their time at One World children are introduced to many different stories - stories told and ‘book stories’. Sharing books is beginning to learn to read, whether the adult is with a child in the home, or with a group of children in an early learning setting.

Literacy learning does not ‘begin at school’; it begins at birth. Caring families foster and applaud children’s early achievements and early childhood educators complement and enhance this important learning which underpins school and life success.

Catherine Schwarz

Kindergarten Teacher

One World for Children