The Significance of Narrative in the Early Years
An examination of how to use children’s plays to begin the process of literacy.
This essay gives advice to the parent or teacher on how to begin the process of literacy in a child through play. The essay begins with Sarah Wilford’s five “literacy goals” that can be accomplished by nurturing a child’s natural tendency toward play. These are: 1) developing an understanding of the symbolic process, 2) fostering language growth, 3) strengthening the child’s problem-solving abilities, 4) motivating children to continue in literacy activities, and 5) helping the child develop a joy in participating in all facets of literacy. The paper then expands on these goals, providing various ways to encourage literacy through play.
“By nurturing a child’s natural tendency to play, a parent or teacher can nurture the child’s growing understanding of literacy. As children begin to understand the concept of props and players being representations of other people or things in their playtime activities, they begin to grasp a basic understanding that written words represent spoken words in the same way. By trying to help others to understand the meanings of their representations, their vocabularies increase. When they attempt to solve problems encountered in play, they are adding to their knowledge of their understanding of the purpose of words, and their uses.”