Smart Ideas: Revisited
How Efficient is The Natural Approach in Training Kids to Read and Write?
Within their early years, children are naturally equipped with the ability to do many tasks. They learn all about the complex environment around them and how to navigate it. We do not necessarily sit them down and teach them to do things like talking and walking; they figure out how to do it on their own. Clearly, what propels them mostly is the strong desire they have to copy what we do.
With this in mind, we have a model to help us teach them more complex tasks like reading and writing. For instance, kids take a similar sequential path when learning how to walk. They go from one stage to the next, each more complex than the previous one. While they learn to walk, all we do is provide a conducive environment. We do this by making sure there is nothing harmful in their path, while also offering a helping hand when they need it, as well as expressing pleasure at their progress.
Learning works in the same way. It is also a series of stages, increasing in complexity. While they learn, we should also provide a safe and supportive environment. Children also learn to talk without being taught. Instead, they pick up on the words around them with special meaning to them. Once the child can speak fluently, they can move on to the next stage which involves print.
As a child is read to and as they watch people write, they start seeing how speech and print are connected. As time goes by, the child starts to mimic what others are doing by scribbling and doodling. This way, the child is trying to communicate what’s on their mind by translating it into print. With this realization together with the knowledge that they mimic what’s around them, a natural approach can then be mapped out for the child’s learning.
Children can communicate their feelings long before they can speak. They do this through crying, together with other forms of body language. The moment they go from speech to scribbling, that’s where intervention should be done to aid their learning. Children go through the various stages of communication, propelled by the desire to communicate their thoughts. It is therefore important that reading becomes the last step in the learning process. This is because books are portraying the author’s mind and not the child’s.
If a child goes from speaking directly to reading without writing first, the natural process is interrupted and they might find it hard to progress further. By showing the children how their own words appear in print, they learn that print is basically “talk that has been written down”. With this in mind, the child is able to make steady progress henceforth.
All kids are different and so is their learning pace. It is therefore very important to use this individualized natural approach when teaching them. These strategies have been tested and proven with children from all forms of backgrounds. There is no one way that works for all children, but this strategy has proven very effective.
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