Over the past year, Eastbourne Primary School, along with the Seawinds Community Hub, has been leading a project to develop early literacy in the Rosebud West community. Children’s early literacy development is an excellent predictor of school success, so helping children develop language and literacy from an early age ensures that children are set up for long-term learning success.
Through working with international experts in the Early Childhood sector, educators at Eastbourne and the Hub have been focusing on helping develop the best quality learning opportunities for your children. One of the ways that we are doing this is through a strategy known as Conversational Reading. It is a simple strategy that you can do at home that will pay huge benefits for children’s development.
The goal of Conversational Reading is developing children’s language. Children are predisposed to learn language, and development is enhanced through exposure. Conversational Reading is a quality interaction between an adult and a child where language is developed. Adults invite children to look at a book together, and language and literacy are developed through the conversation about the book. Rather than just reading the words to a child, this approach works like a conversation: it goes ‘back and forth’, so children get to speak and listen.
The strategy uses a simple approach based on the see-show-say principle:
- ‘See’ encourages children to draw attention to the book, and hear rich language:
- “See the ladybird? She has black spots on her back. And look at her cross face! What a frown she has!
- ‘Show’ encourages children to identify objects, even if they cannot name them.
- “Can you show me her legs? Point to her antennas!”
- ‘Say’ encourages children to identify objects, using words to describe what they can see.
- “(point to the green background) What is this? What is the title of the book?
The adult moves through the levels of questioning to help children’s language develop: if ‘say’ is too difficult, go to the ‘show’ level. This approach works at all age levels with books suited to different age groups. The most important period for children’s development is between 0-3 years, so enjoying books with your baby or toddler daily is an important part of your routine as a parent.
This is a great way to enjoy books with your child that is proven to set them up for long-term success.