As we enter a new school year, it is helpful to remember that we often take our use of vocabulary for granted. We may not always realize that school words such as row or whisper may not have meanings for our children. This is why it is essential we use comprehensible input to be sure our children understand school vocabulary. Have children practice whispering before you ask them to whisper. Be sure children act out words like row or column before using these words in directions.
While we know this is essential for our English Language Learners (ELLs), we can't assume English speakers have a context for these words. Remember, school is a new experience for our preschoolers!
As we think about ELLs and children new to the school experience, we should consciously use motions, drama, and pictures to be sure all children understand what we say and the directions we give. Make a game of asking children to sit in a row. Have them practice what it means to listen carefully. Ask them to line up several times without leaving the classroom. Give a big round of applause when these school experiences are done to your satisfaction. Establishing routines like this, in an age-appropriate way, in the beginning of the school year will make the school experience more successful for everyone.
It is also helpful to let families know what you are doing. Either send home a daily explanation (in the languages spoken by your families) detailing how you are establishing school routines or post a sign outside of your classroom. Ask families to support you by reviewing the new vocabulary at home or by explaining to parents how they listen during story time, etc. This helps the learning to go smoothly and it shows families you value their support.
NAEYC - 2.D.01
Head Start - II.A.