Literacy begins forming from early childhood. It enhances all the developmental aspects of a child. Literacy can also be promoted by the use of appropriate models of teaching, classroom settings, and learning environment. This paper examines the arrangement of objects in the classroom and the required teaching skills that enhance literacy in young learners (Wilson, 2011).
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Variety of early childhood classrooms and environmental contexts
Classroom sample 1
The major focus of this classroom setting is to improve the writing and reading skills of the learners. The pupils spend most of their time writing articles, letters to parents and friends and sharing their daily happenings in the classroom.
Classroom sample 2
This classroom is divided into three areas which comprise a board that represents the kitchen, library, and garage. The areas focus mostly on children playing in the sand, use of props, toys, drawings, and roles played. The children label and mark everything present in the room. They occasionally use papers, pencils, and other written materials to promote their role-play activities. Materials found in this class include prints, labels, pictures, books, papers, scissors, pencils and bulletins, drama areas filled with useful props, partitions, tables, and chairs.
Classroom sample 3
This setup includes a room without printed teaching and learning aids, literacy props, and boards. The room may not be demarcated. Toys may be scattered everywhere in the room. The setup should not have any directions and labels.
A classroom model that supports literacy, its development, and arrangement of objects in a room to maximize literacy opportunities for children
The second sample reflects purposeful literacy and its progress. First, the room may be subdivided into three segments that include kitchen, library, and garage.
The kitchen may be in one corner next to the door, while the library will be in the other one. The garage may be at the far end corner. The room may have a big table next to the kitchen with appropriate chairs that children may use to play or learn. A desk and small chairs may be situated next to the library and used for reading. In the kitchen, several things related to the kitchen may be used and appropriately labeled. Such items may be cups, spoons, plates, and pans. The library may contain several books, printed materials, pencils, and crayons. The items may be placed in a certain order according to their colors, sizes, shapes, or themes. They can also be marked. The garage may comprise of toys and other playthings. The room ought to have enough space to facilitate easy movement of children from one location to another.
The environment is crucial to learning. It helps in fostering emergent literacy skills and concepts. According to Genisio & Drecktrah (2012), “children’s natural growth and awareness of print in the environment” (p. 227). Teachers must look for ways of imparting literacy skills to children appropriately by creating a rich literacy context where they can learn how to read, write, and talk. Roskos & Neuman (2012) advance the notion that “literacy-rich environments are of value. They allow children to practice literacy behaviors and language in ways that make sense to them” (p. 264). The rationale for my choice of objects for the visual model and arrangement of objects entails age, rate of apprehension of content, and learning abilities factors of the learners. The same factors inform the reasons for delineating similarities for children of both the ages 5 / Pre-k and the ages 8 / k and grade 3. Children come from various environmental backgrounds and possess different learning abilities. The kind of materials appropriate for this environment must capture the age differences of the learners and their academic abilities. The objects may include art materials for such assignments as drawing, coloring, and modeling. Other materials may include word puzzles that may improve the vocabulary abilities of the children.
The classroom design, its enrichment, and decoration may have critical effects on the learning behaviors of a child. They help the learner practice literacy behaviors and language in ways that he/she understands. Roskos and Neuman (2012) postulate the idea that the deliberate redesign and enrichment of an early childhood classroom “significantly influence the literacy behaviors of the children. Pupils should engage in literacy behaviors like handling, reading, and writing. Their literacy-related play improves in longer durations becoming complex due to ‘strings’ of interrelated literacy behaviors” (p. 263). Based on these findings, Roskos and Neuman (2012) conclude that “literacy-enriched play environments are of value as they allow children to practice literacy tendencies and language in methods that make sense to them.” (p. 264).
Teachers need to plan and create a literacy-rich environment by following the Roskos and Neuman (2012) three design principles to guide their work. The frameworks include the principle of definition, the philosophy of adaptation, and the theory of familiarity. These ideas provide an appropriate structure for creating a relevant literacy setting for the pupils.
The philosophy of definition
The room can be subdivided into different areas that represent various segments of interest during learning. One can use semi-fixed features and prints like labels and direction signs for demarcation. For example, low furniture structures may be utilized to create comfortable suitable contexts that enhance interactive and productive play (Roskos & Neuman, 2012). This aspect may help the child to easily identify and relate to items and names. Environmental elements, directional attributes, and signs can also be utilized for highlighting the learning areas.
The theory of adaptation
Teachers should be able to change a particular environment and relate it with the real one by varying the items that are required in that particular context. A prop like a sign can be used by a teacher to change an area previously used as a library into a shop by removing the books and replacing them with items found in a shop like soap, bread, and milk.
The principal of familiarity
A teacher can use an item designated for a certain activity by combining it with a similar or familiar object. For example, a postal corner can also be used as a library by combining books and stamps.
All the models are designed using a curriculum based on the children’s interest and with the belief that they will help create the literacy environment.
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One classroom’s arrangement focuses on a literacy-rich environment, and another emphasizes print materials, and hence they do not promote literacy behaviors.
Edwards and Willis (2009) indicate that “a child should be able to do all the things that the powerful people they admire can do, including talking, writing, drawing, using the computer, and otherwise creating and sharing ideas, memories, solutions, even jokes and feelings” (p. 259).
Literacy does not only involve writing and reading but also requires one to use several skills like playing, understanding codes, and decoding them. A child’s growth can be dynamic and entail mental, speech, and social interactions.
Literacy enhancement denotes the promotion of emergent learning strengths through the development of a suitable context as a learning agent. Other objects and facilities need to be utilized to foster good learning for the children and teachers. The facilitators need to be creative to acquire positive results while developing literacy in children.
Edwards, C.P., & Willis, L.M. (2009). Integrating visual and verbal literacy in the early childhood classroom. Early Childhood Education Journal, 27(4), 259-265.
Genisio, M., & Drecktrah, M. (2012). Emergent literacy in an early childhood classroom: Center learning to support the child with special needs. Early Childhood Education Journal, 26(4), 225-231.
Roskos, K., & Neuman, S. (2012). Play settings as literacy environments: Their effects on children’s literacy behaviors. In D.F. Lancy (Ed.), Children’s Emergent Literacy: From Research to Practice (pp. 251-264). Westport, CT: Praeger.
Wilson, R.A. (2011). Special Educational Needs in the Early Years (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge Falmer.