10 Language and Literacy Activities You Can Do With Your Child at Home
10 Language and Literacy Activities You Can Do With Your Child at Home – By Susie Beghin
Earlier this month, we posted the first in a series of articles highlighting the 4 Pillars of Learning approach we use at Alpha’s Discovery Kids. This two-part article addressed our approach to developing Language and Literacy skills in the children under our care. While the children spend a lot of their time in our centre, it’s important that their language and literacy is nurtured at home as well. In order to help our parents, we have created a list of things they can do at home with their young kids to complement our practices. A lot of these activities do not require scheduled time since they can be done as part of everyday life and should be encouraged amongst all caregivers.
- Read aloud with your child: There is a reason experts always recommend reading with your children. It is the most important thing you can do to develop their literacy skills. It helps their brains develop, it improves concentration, and helps create a sense of curiosity about the world around them.
- Use alphabet magnets/stickers/cards to learn letter sounds: It doesn’t matter what order they learn their letters, so start with the ones that are used most often—S A T . Gradually add in other letters, like the letters in their name. Add more as they gain proficiency.
- Play Alphabet Concentration: Write the uppercase and lowercase alphabets on index cards to create a deck of 52 cards. Play concentration, matching the uppercase letter to the lowercase letter. Have the children make the letter sounds as you play.
- Drawing: Learning how to hold a crayon/pencil/marker properly and how to make whatever shapes they want helps children when they start learning how to draw the specific letters of the alphabet. If they draw with confidence, they will write with confidence.
- Go on an Alphabet Walk: Before you go for a walk, choose a letter sound. See how many things you can find that start with that sound while you walk. This will also increase your child’s awareness of their environment and increase their vocabulary.
- Talk to your child: As with reading to your children to develop literacy skills, talking to your children is one of the most important things you can do to help them develop their language skills. Children whose parents talk to them have larger vocabularies and will use more advanced sentence structures. Use new words (for example, good, yummy, tasty, delicious, etc., to describe food) and ask them if they understand and can explain what the new words mean. Describe your activities as you perform them so they can start making connections to abstract words and ideas.
- Play “I Spy”: It teaches children how to use language to describe the things in their environment. Depending on how you play, it will develop their knowledge of colours and letter sounds, so mix it up and play both ways.
- Create stories using images: Using picture cards, photographs, images cut from magazines, etc., allow your children to create their own narratives. They will use their words to describe what is happening in the story. This helps develop language, teaches them how to project and predict what will happen next, and develops their creative thinking.
- Sing songs: In the car, while out and about is a perfect place to sing songs with your children. Not only is it fun, but it helps pass the time while driving in the car! Children love songs with actions so try to do the actions as you go.
- Play rhyming games: Choose simple words from objects in your environment and see how many rhyming words you and your child can come up with.
As you can see, these are all simple activities that don’t take up a lot of time. Some of them can effortlessly be incorporated into your everyday life. Older siblings and extended family members can easily participate. A person’s brain is at peak ability to learn language between the ages of 1-6 years, so the efforts invested in developing your child’s language and literacy skills now will pay off in their ability to communicate in the future. And that’s 10 Language and Literacy Activities You Can Do With Your Child at Home.
Thanks for reading 10 Language and Literacy Activities You Can Do With Your Child at Home, by Susie Beghin
The Importance of Language and Literacy for Children in Daycare – Part 2
The Importance of Language and Literacy for Children in Daycare – Part 2 by Susie Beghin
Language and Literacy is key part of the 4 Pillars of Learning at Alpha’s Discovery Kids Preschool and Daycare, with locations in Mississauga and Oakville. This month, we will continue to examine Language and Literacy for children in daycare and provide tips on how parents can incorporate the curriculum in their own homes.
How to Foster a Love of Reading
The benefits of phonological learning in preschoolers is widely accepted by educators and child development experts. As part of our Language and Literacy Program, we utilize the highly successful Jolly Phonics literacy program. We focus on first learning letter sounds, not names, and rather than following the traditionally accepted alphabet sequence, we start with the most common letter sounds. The first ones we concentrate on are S A T, the common letter sounds in the English language. We sing songs to help develop association with the letter sounds, and then progress through the rest of the alphabet in a similar fashion. Once the sense of the letter sounds is developed, we learn the letter names. This approach encourages early reading in a fun way, and early reading helps develop literacy skills.
There are several ways we approach reading in the daycare and preschool environment. There are two types of reading activity: Interactive Reading and Dialogic Reading. Interactive Reading itself then takes two approaches. The first approach is the traditional storyteller format—an adult or older child reads to a child or group of children. The children listen and observe, but do not actively participate in the storytelling itself. In the second approach, the adult prompts the child or children with questions like “What do you think will happen next?” The children are encouraged to fully participate in the storytelling experience by asking questions, or making statements related to the narrative and their understanding of it. This type of reading encourages reading comprehension, projection, big picture thinking, and creativity.
Dialogic Reading, on the other hand, puts the child in charge or the narrative. The child tells the story to an adult or other children, either by reading or reciting from memory, or creates a story entirely their own by interpreting the pictures in a book in their own way. This creative interpretation puts the child in charge, encourages creativity, and develops language and vocabulary skills. This approach requires a lot of patience as the child will tell the story in their own way and we should refrain from correcting them as they tell the story.
Children’s Choice is Best
When reading we let the children choose the books they want to hear or read, because if the book is not interesting to them, they won’t engage. Reading won’t be fun, it will be a chore, or worse, a punishment. If a child is starting to read on their own, we let them go at their own pace, not rushing them along. When they make a mistake on a word, a correction is gently made to help them remember for next time, but it does not become the focus of the activity.
These are just some of the ways we incorporate Language and Literacy skills in our classrooms to help your children thrive. Stay tuned for our next blog post, where we will provide you with ways you can continue and enhance your child’s Language and Literacy development at home. If you want further information about our 4 Pillars of Learning click on the Curriculum page.
Thanks for reading The Importance of Language and Literacy for Children in Daycare – Part 2
The Importance of Language and Literacy for Children in Daycare – Part 1
The Importance of Language and Literacy for Children in Daycare – Part 1 – At Alpha’s Discovery Kids Preschool and Daycare, located in Mississauga and Oakville, we have created a curriculum that fosters children’s natural curiosity through exploration, play and inquiry. Our curriculum focuses on The 4 Pillars of Learning: 1) Language and Literacy, 2) STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math), 3) Physical Activity and Nutrition, and 4) Mindful Awareness. Over the next few months, we will be examining the 4 Pillars in-depth, and providing tips on how parents can incorporate the curriculum in their own homes.
First Pillar Of Learning
Language and Literacy is the first Pillar of Learning because it is the foundation for acquiring all other skills. The ability to communicate effectively, through both verbal and written communication, is key to learning all other subject areas and achieving academic success.
Language and Literacy go hand in hand, especially when working with young children. A toddler’s brain is at peak ability for learning, meaning a solid groundwork for language and literacy can be established at this time. As a person ages, we lose the ability to easily learn new things, but for young children presenting language and literacy together is easy and natural, because they are not differentiating written language from spoken language the way adults do. It is all just learning how to communicate.
There are many ways to develop language and literacy in young children. When engaging with the children we use full sentences, not “baby talk”, and use the vocabulary suitable for whatever we are doing at the time. We encourage children to ask questions about new words. We enunciate clearly so they can hear the letter sounds we are using. To help develop speech, we give them time to get their thoughts out. We do not speak for them or assume we know what the want to say. If they need something, we encourage them to ask for it. If they can’t articulate what they want, then we model the words for them, e.g., “Oh, you want some water? Here is your water.” This will help them frame the question for the next time.
Embrace The Opportunity
Many of the children who come through our doors everyday speak a different language at home and then English when they come to school. Often they will become interpreters for other, older family members. We don’t see this as a challenge, we recognize it as an opportunity. A person’s brain is at peak ability to learn language between the ages of 1-6 years. To fully exploit this, we take the opportunity to introduce them to Canada’s other official language, French, in our classrooms. We use songs to introduce them to the French alphabet, numbers, colours, and basic words, giving them a head start on learning the language, since public schools don’t usually introduce French until fourth grade. If a parent wants to pursue a French immersion program, their child will begin with a solid base in the language.
These are just some of the ways we incorporate Language and Literacy skills in our classrooms to help your children thrive. Stay tuned for our next blog post, where we will continue to provide more information about how we teach children to read and tips for parents to use at home too! If you want further information about The 4 Pillars of Learning, click on the Curriculum page.
The Importance of Language and Literacy for Children in Daycare – Part 1
by Susie Beghin
Alpha’s Discovery Kids—Oakville Grand Opening
A New Daycare in Oakville Ontario
On June 8, 2019, I had the good fortune to attend the Grand Opening of Alpha’s Discovery Kids — Oakville. There were a lot of people who came out to celebrate with owner Susie Beghin and her family—dignitaries, like Oakville MPP Stephen Crawford, staff, friends, local families interested in the prospect of a new daycare and preschool in the area, and many business colleagues who have supported her along the way to achieving this milestone.
When you enter the foyer of the centre, framed on the wall is a quote from Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and noted educator Mark Van Doren: “The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.” This is very much representative of the approach Alpha’s Discovery Kids has been taking to preschool education in their Mississauga location since 2012. Susie started fulfilling her dreams as an ECE (Early Childhood Educator) in 2004 when she opened an indoor playground, Alpha’s Discovery Club, offering a new and unique play environment with children’s programs and other activities. This was the first step in a long-term goal of offering top-quality daycare and preschool education to children in Mississauga and the surrounding areas, and, although she has since shifted her focus to expanding the preschool aspect of her business, the idea of play and learning is still very much a part of their core curriculum.
Inside The New Oakville Daycare
The new Oakville location of Alpha’s Discovery Kids is freshly renovated and equipped, and has a capacity of 48 children. There are three rooms, divided by age group:
● A Toddler Room (12m–2-1/2yr), with capacity for 15 children
● A Junior Preschool Room (2-1/2–3-1/2yr), with capacity for 15 children
● A Senior Preschool Room (3-1/2–-5yr), with capacity for 18 children
There is also a large, outdoor play area with a rubberized, soft surface for safety, lots of equipment and toys, and both sun and shaded areas. The children enjoy two hour-long outdoor play sessions as part of their curriculum. There is also a 2-hour nap every day for the full-time students who still need that rest time, while those who no longer nap participate in quiet activities.
Curriculum-wise, Susie and her team have developed what they call the 4 Pillars of Learning, and they use this approach at both Alpha’s locations. The 4 Pillars are:
1. Language and Literacy: Reading and writing is taught for every age group, to some extent. Theses are considered Foundation skills. In order to learn, you have to be able to read and write.
2. STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math—These days we are hearing a lot about encouraging STEM careers for high school students, particularly girls because of the lack of women in these fields. STEM activities are taught to all children at Alpha’s, but they also include the category “Art” in their curriculum to foster creativity in growing minds. Creativity is essential, because without it there are no advancements
3. Physical Activity and Nutrition: Taking care of your body is important and it is never too early to start teaching children how to do this. The children at Alpha’s participate in both indoor and outdoor physical activities at least twice a day. They are taught about how eating well helps them take care of themselves, and they have a fully catered menu, approved by a Registered Dietician, that follows the New Canada Food Guide.
4. Being Mindful: The children at Alpha’s learn about mindfulness as part of the core curriculum. They are taught the importance of kindness, problem solving skills, self-regulation and self-calming techniques, and mindful stretching.
Aside from this ground-breaking approach to preschool curriculum, why else should a parent consider Alpha’s Discovery Kids?
● They offer flexibility. Alpha’s has a variety of part-time options, to suit almost any family’s schedule. If your family has special scheduling needs, they will do their best to accommodate you.
● Alpha’s not only teaches Technology to your children they use it to keep parents in touch with their children’s day-to-day activities using an app called Hi Mama. While this type of technology is available to other daycare providers, Alpha’s is second-to-none at exploiting everything the app has to offer the parents—pictures in real time, schedules of the day’s activities, menus and food consumption on a daily basis, sleep patterns, and real time progress reports of the children’s learning. A lot of this information is also available on their website.
● Quality teachers and ECEs. The Mississauga location has low turnover, with many employees there for over 5 years. They are committed to the centre and to the kids, and this commitment gives the kids a sense of continuity and safety.
● Alpha’s follows an “emergent curriculum”. What does this mean? It means they are flexible in their lesson plans and they are always listening and paying attention to what the children are showing a sustained interest in on any given day. If the questions about one topic keep coming, the staff does their research and in the next day or so they come armed with a lesson plan or experiment that will engage the kids on the topic and help them learn more about it. They believe that, when kids are interested and engaged, the learning comes naturally.
It has been a long time since my kids were young enough to require daycare and preschool options, but after learning a few years back about the dedication and commitment Alpha’s has to their charges, and the groundbreaking approach they take to preschool education, I almost wish they did. Instead, I recommend Alpha’s every chance I get, to anyone I know with small children. The Oakville community, especially their children, are very lucky to have the new Alpha’s Discovery Kids in their midst.
Alpha’s Discovery Kids in Oakville, located at 609 Ford Drive, Unit 3–4, Oakville, ON, L6J 7Z6, is now accepting applications for their waiting list. Please contact Susie Beghin at 905-337-7225. Click here to contact us by email.
Dropping Off Your Child At Daycare
Dropping Off Your Child At Daycare – It’s almost time to head back to school or daycare in Mississauga for many kids who have been at home with their parents. Some kids may be experiencing separation from their parents for the first time. Many parents struggle with the separation of an anxious child when dropping off at school or daycare. You may be worried and heartbroken when you see them crying right when it’s time for you to leave. You are not alone. At Alpha’s Discovery Kids Preschool and Daycare in Mississauga, we have seen this many times and we can help you make the transition from home to preschool or daycare as smooth as possible.
- DO – Say goodbye to your child and give them a hug and kiss. Let them know you love them and you will be back.
- DO – explain that you will be back after a certain activity such as (after outside time) or (when they wake up from nap time) etc. it’s good to make a plan so the child can relate the time of day you will return.
- DO – make a plan for a special activity you will do with them after you pick them up and stick to it. It could be something simple like reading a favorite book together or playing a favorite game or going to the park. This serves as a great distraction that the teacher can talk about after you leave.
- DO – remind them that they will have fun and show them some of the fun stuff they will do.
- DON’T – sneak out when they are not looking. This never works and usually leaves the child more anxious and fearful.
- DON’T – look scared and sad to leave your child. Your child is looking at you and needs to know that they are safe and there is nothing for them to worry about. This may take a bit of acting on your part, especially if it is your first child and they are separating for the first time.
- DON’T – linger or watch by the door or window. Make your goodbye brief and don’t stay too long. It’s better for you to leave and let the child start the process of becoming independent. I can assure you that the longer you stay, the longer the child will cry.
- DO – Call the preschool or daycare and check on your child. You will feel better when you know your child has calmed down. They eventually calm down and get distracted by all the fun they are going to have.
- DO – understand that a transition takes times and your child will not adjust right away. They need time to get used to a new teacher and a new environment. Some children can adapt quickly while others need more time – sometimes weeks or months. Each child is unique but they will eventually make the adjustment.
We know it is difficult to walk away when your child is in tears, but if you follow these do’s and don’ts, we can almost guarantee that the child you pick up will be smiling, happy, and excited to tell you about their day at school. And remember that you are teaching independence and that is an important skill for life!
Is my child’s speech delayed? This seems to be a question that many parents are asking their daycare teachers in Mississauga and the surrounding area. More and more families are becoming aware of developmental delays and are being proactive in seeking help through daycare centres.
At Alpha’s Discovery Kids, there are a variety of highly trained Early Childhood Educators with experience and resources to support children ages 12 months to 5 years in all areas of development. Our philosophy centres around being an inclusive daycare environment to provide the best care for children at every stage of their development.
There are numerous resources online to educate yourself on “typical” child development but every child is different. Even as adults, we all have strengths and weaknesses but finding the right resources in order to develop our skills is an ongoing journey of development. In Mississauga and the Peel Region; there are several programs that can help you and your family with speech and language.
Many child development experts agree that the first step to developing your child’s speech and language is to seek a daycare environment that best suits your family. The daycare environment has so many opportunities for genuine peer and teacher interactions that can support your child’s language skills as well as their social interactions. The teachers are trained to provide experiences that allow your child to grow their language skills at their own pace.
The second step is to seek the advice of a resource consultant who can support you and your family at the daycare. In Mississauga, we are supported by a regional program called Peel Inclusive Resource Services (PIRS) which allow the educator and resource consultant to work directly with families to give families available resources, tips and advice to support the child to achieve speech and language goals.
Finally, it is a good idea to speak with your child’s doctor and seek a referral for your child to get a speech and language assessment by a speech and language pathologist. In the city of Mississauga, there are several free resources for every family to give their child the best start in life.
Signs your Child is Ready for Potty Training
Signs your Child is Ready for Potty Training
How do you know if your child is ready for potty training? How young is too young or how old is too old? This is a question we are often asked at Alpha’s Preschool Academy and Child Care Centre in Mississauga on a regular basis.
As child care professional with quite a bit of experience, we can honestly say there is no definitive answer. Every child is amazingly unique and develops in their own time. Even if you parent your child in the exact same way at the same time, as in the case with twins, they still won’t be the same!
At our daycare in Mississauga, we always work with our families to create a stress-free potty training routine to best suit the child and the care and love that is needed during this big transition. There are certain readiness signs to watch out for which we will highlight in this article.
Your child should be able to walk steadily with confidence and co-ordination. Keep track of your child’s wet diapers and how often they are wet throughout the day. Observe how long your child can stay dry. If they are able to keep it dry for over 2 hours, that is a good sign that they are physically ready to start the potty training process. Also, ensure that your child has regular bowl movements with predicable times.
If our daycare has taught us anything, it is definitely that behaviours are always changing with so many factors such as : age, environment, new care providers, mood etc. These are just general suggestions of signs to look for.
Your child should be able to sit for up to 5 minutes continuously. Your child should be able to pull pants up and down on their own. If not, don’t hesitate to encourage your child to learn that skill whenever you have an opportunity to do so. Some kids don’t like to feel wet our soiled and will be uncomfortable. If that’s the case, then take advantage of that as an opportunity to start potty training! If your child takes an interest in using the washroom, encourage them to do so. If your child is attending daycare and they show interest with the other children using the toilet, that is also a good sign. If they are always asserting their independence this is a great motivator to encourage potty training!
Your child needs to be able to communicate with you to let you know that they need to use the toilet. If your child is able to follow simple directions and is talking in a few words and phrases, they are ready to learn the words to identify “pee” or “poo” which will help with the potty training process.
If your child resists using the toilet and seems to show no interest in the potty training process, this is not something that can be forced. You want the process to be successful and if you start with resistance, the process will not go well. Listen to your child and look for the key physical, behavioural and cognitive signs indicated above before you start the potty training process.
At Alpha’s Discovery Kids Preschool and Daycare in Mississauga, we watch for the signs and keep open communication with families about the child’s readiness to use the toilet. We work with our families to ensure the child’s success.
For most people, chores are a hassle and getting your children to help out might as well be the end of the world! It doesn’t have to be that way. How can we involve our kids in chores without making it seem like a lot of work? In this article, we have some tips that can help build a household where everyone helps out so that there is time for both work and play! Read more ›
One of the most emotional things for a parent to experience is the transition from home to daycare. It is so hard to imagine a complete stranger taking care of your child regardless of their qualifications. First of all, you need to know that you are not alone in feeling this way. At Alpha’s Discovery Kids Preschool and Daycare in Mississauga, we want to make the transition to daycare as smooth as possible so here are some tips to make the transition easier. Read more ›
Are you involved in your Child’s Daycare or Child Care Centre?
Are you involved in your Child’s Daycare or Child Care Centre? – Are you feeling disconnected with your daycare or child care centre? Are you too busy to get involved in your child’s learning? As parents, we know how busy you are and it can be difficult to get involved in your child’s daycare when you have so many competing priorities. Each child care centre uses different ways to engage families with the program; however, you may be wondering how you can get involved? Based on our experience at our Mississauga daycare and child care centre, here’s some ways to connect: Read more ›