Early literacies

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    This course starts on Monday February 13. You can read more about it here, but the parts will not be available until that date.

    Welcome to this course in which we explore the development of literacies in early childhood. This course looks at ways that teachers can support young children to understand and express themselves in multiple ways, giving you tools to reflect upon and apply practices and strategies in your own unique local early childhood contexts.  

    The learning objectives of the course are for early childhood teachers to:

    • understand key principles relating to literacy in its many forms in early childhood education contexts
    • identify multiple ways that young children engage with literacies within everyday interactions in early childhood settings
    • relate and apply course content to your own practices around supporting and extending early literacies in local early childhood contexts

    Organised across four parts, the course will cover:

    • Core principles relating to the development of early literacies in ECE settings
    • Embodied, nonverbal literacies 
    • Spoken and written literacies
    • The power of stories 

    Each part includes core readings, videos with experts or case studies of practice, practical activities, and opportunities for reflection, as well as additional resources that enable you to further extend your learning. 

    Throughout the course, we are going to invite you to engage in an extended inquiry into the ways in which a focus child uses multiple forms of literacy to communicate. The purpose of this inquiry is to build your understanding of the many ways that young children engage with different literacies in early childhood settings, and to develop your ability to identify, support, and extend children’s growing knowledge and use of nonverbal, embodied, spoken, and written literacies. In each part of the course, you will concentrate on different aspects of literacy, and attend to the ways in which your focus child uses them to communicate and express meaning. You will also try out some practical strategies for developing children’s ability to use embodied and linguistic forms of literacy, and consider some different ways to tell and share stories with children in ways that support their developing literacy and enhance their wellbeing. 

    Now is a good time to identify a child (and their family) that you will observe and study, considering how they engage and learn with literacies. Please take some time to reflect on your current knowledge of the child, as a touchstone for your understanding throughout the course. Start by thinking about what you already know about this child and their family, and make some notes on their interests, culture, strengths, and existing goals, including the types of literacies that might be valued and experienced in their home.

    Watch a video

    Nau mai, haere mai, tēnā koutou kātoa. Ko Amanda White toku ingoa. Welcome to this course on supporting literacy in early childhood education settings. In my previous role as a speech and language therapist, and more recently as a doctoral researcher, I’ve had the privilege of working with many skilled and passionate teachers who have inspired and shaped my own ideas and practice. There are many ways of thinking about literacy in the early years, and different theories have shaped policies and pedagogies relating to literacy in early childhood education. 

    In this course we take a deliberately broad view of literacy, or ‘literacies’, that draws on social, cultural, and cognitive aspects of how children learn to make and share meaning with others.

    In Part 1, we start by considering key principles and definitions of literacy, including the idea that there are multiple ways that young children engage in making and sharing meaning with others. In Part 2, we focus on embodied literacies, through which children participate in communicating with others in multimodal and sensory ways. In Part 3, we think about aspects of spoken and written literacies that lay the foundations for learning through talk and print. Finally, in Part 4, we explore the power of telling and reading stories and how this can be done in multiple ways including, but not limited to, reading books.  

    In this course, we will explore these different aspects of early literacy, enabling you make decisions about how best to support the learning of children you work with. Throughout this course, you will hear different perspectives on early literacy development from scholars and practitioners with an interest and expertise in this area, including teachers of infants and toddlers, and those working with older children. We will hear from teachers about the ways they support different kinds of literacies with children from birth to 6 years, including those who are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. I hope you enjoy the course and will be able to adapt the content for the children and families that you serve in your local communities. So, a very warm welcome. No reira, tēnā koutou kātoa. Let’s get started with Part 1.