Early childhood literacy is a necessity in education. As young learners enter fourth grade, they are expected to read much of the information they will learn. Those who are not already fluent readers can quickly find themselves falling behind across all curriculum areas. As a future early childhood or elementary teacher, you can support the success of your students by developing a literacy-rich classroom.
The Physical Setup of a Literacy-Rich Classroom
There has been a major shift in favor of tech-rich classrooms. In some well-funded schools, every student has an iPad, and classrooms boast SMART Boards instead of chalkboards. This does not mean that vocab posters are out of date.
It is fundamental for children to interact with tangible material, and printed materials allow this in a way that technology does not. So go ahead and create display walls of students’ work, fill up bulletin boards with “Word of the Day” displays and use labels on classroom objects to encourage vocab development. You can also use:
- Anchor charts
- Word walls
- Literacy workstations
- Content posters
- Information and book displays
- Writing centers
The Development of an In-Classroom Library
Classroom libraries are necessary for every teacher who wants to create a literacy-rich setting. Building a classroom library does not require a large budget. Teachers can take advantage of publishers’ “warehouse sales,” library sales and secondhand bookshops. Look for books that students will genuinely want to read and try to get a balanced mix of fiction and nonfiction.
Remember that your students will be reading at different levels, so include a mix of books for students at varying reading levels. Of course, just including a library space in your classroom isn’t always enough – you will also need to set aside free time during each day for kids to visit it. Make the area an enticing place for kids to spend time by providing a variety of seating options, for example.
The Implementation of an Integrated Curriculum
Beyond physical design, classrooms become literacy-rich places when the curriculum itself is integrated. As students move through the grade levels, reading becomes less of an end goal and more of a means to an end. For example, your students can read stories that teach key scientific and mathematical concepts. Kids who are learning about the weather can keep a weather journal, sing relevant songs and learn new adjectives that to describe weather conditions.
You can also carry this concept over to your classroom design. Consider creating an interactive display shelf that can change from one thematic unit to the next. For a unit about ornithology, it could contain a kids’ field guide to birds, some bird nests and perhaps a colorful chart that includes diagrams, pictures and new vocabulary words.
The College of Education at Grand Canyon University offers a diverse range degree programs for current and future teachers. From early childhood education to secondary programs, you’ll find a degree that’s right for you. To learn more, visit our website or click the Request More Information button on this page.