Waiting for children to start "formal" schooling or begin kindergarten isn't necessary when it comes to literacy instruction. Creating the best preschool literacy lesson plan includes balancing instruction and interactive learning in a developmentally appropriate way. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children's position statement on "Learning to Read and Write," careful planning and diverse instructional practices are an absolute must when teaching young children early literacy skills. Your lesson plan should include activities that match the preschool-aged child's developmental abilities, encourage print awareness, call for exploration and have adaptations for learners who are at slightly differing levels.
Incorporate current knowledge of child development and learning principles into your lesson plan, making it developmentally appropriate. Understand what a preschool-aged child -- ages 3 through 5 -- can do or is capable of doing.
Create learning goals and objectives that are consistent with what the children can do and what you want them to get out of the lesson. Include phonological awareness goals, such as creating a list of five rhyming words, as well as other literacy objectives, such as building vocabulary, differentiating upper and lower case letters or repeating at least half of the alphabet.
Add adaptations for individual learning styles. Keep in mind that not every 4-year-old will have the same abilities to write specific letters or pick out parts of the alphabet. Observe the preschoolers during play-times or other literacy activities, noting who can do what and what the children take individual interests in. Use this information to add in divergent activities that allow less or more competent pre-readers and pre-writers to move at their own pace.
Include books that are age appropriate, contain simple words, have pictures and interest the children. Look for options that match a theme that you are already working on. Design activities that allow the children to take part in the book reading process. Write questions or discussion prompts to use while reading the stories.
Encourage active exploration. Create activities that allow the preschool students to experiment with different writing utensils or make their own discoveries while paging through books.
- Design the lesson plan for your students, and not for "preschoolers" in general.
- Make the learning fun. Instead of having the children sit and listen to you talk, create engaging games, such as ABC bingo or a letter scavenger hunt, to get the children's attention and hold their interest.
- Add in cross-curricular activities to your lesson such as finger painting letters or writing scientific observations.
- Encourage students to ask questions and to make connections between what you are reading or studying and their own prior knowledge.
- Don't dumb down the lessons because you think that young children can't understand certain concepts. For example, avoid baby-talk words in favor of real vocabulary.
- Avoid a heavy reliance on ready-made literacy activities. Although these are helpful when starting off your lesson planning, you will need to make adjustments for your children's learning styles and development.
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