Earlier this month I attended the Young Child Conference. There was a lot of interesting and validating information regarding early childhood. One idea that really stood for me was the importance of oral language development. There is a direct correlation between language development and reading development. Oral language is fundamental and foundational for future success in school and life.
Oral language is both the ability to understand and process spoken words and the ability to speak so as to be understood by others.
The more words a child hears the faster they can make connections between words and meaning and the sooner they can effectively communicate with others. This also enables them to learn to read because they already have a large vocabulary and understanding of language.
Research has found a 30 million word gap among 3 year olds which correlates to their socioeconomic background. The poor (welfare) children hear an average of 167 words per hour; working-class 251 words per hour; professional 382 words per hour. By the time the children are 3 years old there is a huge word gap between the children in poor and professional families--30 million words!
This has a huge impact on school success!
So what does this mean for us as storytime providers? We only see the children once a week (at best). The key is to teach parents and caregivers the importance of oral language and how they can help develop their child’s oral language skills on a daily basis. Throughout storytime we need to encourage parents and caregivers to read, sing, talk, play, and write with their children every day! These five activities foster language skills, which are a foundation for future learning.
So speak up and don't be shy!