Parents as first educators. Supporting kids' emerging literacy to nurture rapid brain development
"A parent is their child’s first educator. As such, empowering parents with the knowledge to develop their child’s emergent literacy skills is the mission behind Arthur Wise Education."
Emma Atkinson, the founder of Arthur Wise Education, has been a primary teacher for over 20 years, with a passion for teaching literacy. After becoming a mother and observing her son’s language develop from birth, she realised the potential parents have as their child’s first educator particularly during the first five years of life. As a result, her business was born. In this interview, The Biglo Book took the chance for a fruitful and inspiring exchange of views with Emma.
Your mission, Emma, is to empower parents and caregivers with the knowledge to develop a child’s emergent literacy foundations through meaningful and shared experiences. What is emerging literacy in concrete terms and why is it so important?
Emergent literacy can be defined as the skills or knowledge children develop before receiving formal instruction in reading and writing at school. Research has found that children who struggle to achieve adequate literacy at school often displayed poor emergent literacy skills in school entry.
Parents have the potential to lay the foundations for their child’s future reading success through the way they nurture their child’s rapid brain development, particularly in the first five years of life.
As you already pointed out, complementing and supplementing a child’s literacy skills is one of the fundamental actions parents can take at home from a very early age. How can Arthur Wise Education help them achieve the best results in this delicate task?
Arthur Wise Education demonstrates to parents that their home literacy environment can enrich opportunities in developing a child’s emergent literacy skill development. This includes highlighting to parents that opportunities for language development exist everywhere. A parent’s potential as their child’s first educator can be shaped in ways such as;
Leveraging everyday opportunities to influence and enrich their child’s language development, and
Being consciously aware of the fundamental milestones and actions that support language development. Examples include; the formation of a secure attachment, eye gaze, and joint attention.
Other actions include; reading to their child from birth, talking to their child, pointing out objects and naming them, encouraging observations and questions, and acknowledging your child in a respectful way.
It would seem that the secret ingredient lies in knowing how to seize the opportunities offered by the many daily activities and situations, isn't it so?
Yes, precisely. The power of recognising that everyday experiences can be seen as language opportunities is so exciting.
Be warned, once you start adopting these principles and begin to realise the learning power of your everyday experiences, your child’s vocabulary will begin to explode and there won’t be a quiet moment in the house - except for sleep time!
ARTHUR WISE EDUCATION
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