A question many families ask, especially of our preschool program, is what type of school preparation does our curriculum include? As our programs are based on children’s interests and guided through play, we have incorporated school readiness practice for our older preschoolers; all through play.
We support young children’s emerging literacy skills by planning activities that involve identifying print, recognizing letters, developing a love of books, writing, and appreciating the rhythm of language. This all starts in our infant program, with the introduction of the Jolly Phonics program. Jolly Phonics is a fun and child centred approach to teaching literacy through synthetic phonics that incorporates actions for each of the 42 letter sounds.
Using a synthetic phonics approach, Jolly Phonics teaches children the five key skills for reading and writing. The program continues through school enabling the teaching of essential grammar, spelling and punctuation skills. The five skills include learning the letter sounds, learning letter formation, blending, identifying the sounds in words (segmenting) and tricky words. In learning the letter sounds, children are taught the 42 main letter sounds. This includes alphabet sounds as well as digraphs such as sh, th, ai and ue. Nextly, in learning letter formation by using different multi-sensory methods like hand actions and gestures, children learn how to form and write the letters. Blending teaches children how to blend the sounds together to read and write new words. In identifying the sounds and listening for certain sounds in words; children have the best start for spelling. Jolly phonics incorporate tricky words, that have irregular spellings; children learn these separately.
Letter recognition begins by immersing children in a literacy-rich environment and fostering a love of language and reading. When connecting letter recognition and actual writing, Islington Village has recently implemented Handwriting without Tears; a great initiative in emersing children in the world of words. The foundation of Handwriting without Tears is that writing is still the tool most used for communication even in such a digital era; the majority of work in elementary schools is done on paper. Handwriting without Tears exposes the benefits of printing in that it boosts brain development, encourages language use and expansion as well as critical thinking.
Similar to Jolly Phonics, Handwriting without Tears includes multi sensory mediums of instructing writing. For example, children use play dough to create letters which strengthens grip while teaching letters. In using the chalk and chalkboard, children prepare their hands and fingers for proper formation, in writing. The multi sensory approach allows for active participation rather than simply completing worksheets. Lessons address grip, letter and number recognition, and capital and number formation. The fun and engaging program incorporates all the senses and by playing, singing, and building letters, all children with various learning styles are able to develop the important skills they need to print words, sentences, and later paragraphs.