Because we offer a transition to school program through our kindy and pre-kindy studios, from time to time, our educators and early childhood teachers are asked, ‘when are you going to teach my child to read?’ to which our answer is, we already are! But perhaps, not in the way parents expect.

The expectation from parents sometimes seems to be that your child will finish their time with Little Scholars and walk into prep knowing how to read, but that’s not exactly our aim.

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Learning to read really starts from infanthood, and is a big process. In fact, research has found newborns’ brains are prewired to be receptive to seeing words and letters. This means babies are already getting ready to read at birth. The relevant part of the brain, known as the “visual word form area” (VWFA), is connected to the language network of the brain, and was discovered by researchers at Ohio State University, who analysed the brain scans of 40 one-week-old babies, as part of the Developing Human Connectome Project.

Researchers compared these to similar scans from 40 adults who participated in a separate Human Connectome Project. The VWFA is next to another part of visual cortex that processes faces, and it was reasonable to believe that there wasn’t any difference in these parts of the brain in newborns. Because as visual objects, faces have some of the same properties as words do, such as needing high spatial resolution for humans to see them correctly.

But the researchers found that even in newborns, the VWFA was different from the part of the visual cortex that recognises faces, primarily because of that connection to the language processing part of the brain.

Lead researcher Zeynep M. Saygin’s team is now scanning the brains of three and four-year-old children to learn more about what the VWFA does before children learn to read.

Research has also showed babies can differentiate their native language from another language when they’re only hours old, which means they begin processing language in the womb. And, amazingly, studies have also found that at birth, the infant brain can perceive the full set of 800 or so sounds, called phonemes. Phonemes form every word in every language.

People can’t learn to read without understanding language, so your child has been working on learning to read since birth!

How Little Scholars helps your child with language development

We encourage language development in many ways understanding that oral language is a significant aspect of early literacy, educators engage in song, rhyming and make use of picture books, to tell a story. Through our discussions and interactions with the children, and observations watching children play and what they’re interested in, we extend on their interests as part of our educational and intentional approach. So, for example, if educators see two children playing with toy dinosaurs, they may chat with them about why they’re interested. Then, they may have a conversation with the class about who else might be interested in dinosaurs. Based on the conversation, if many of the children are, they may set up sensory experiences, art opportunities and get relevant books on the topic of dinosaurs and read them together.

We also use words visually for many of our activities, even if they aren’t book-related, so that children begin to recognise words and associate them. Our environments place great emphasis to embed literacy print across all play spaces, this supports rich language experiences. Educators model words through children’s play, for example, when a child is engaged in block play, the educator will discuss the activity with them, exposing children to words, such as ‘you are putting a block on the top,’ (or underneath, or on the side.) These elements of language are also known as ‘positional language’ and introduce children to literacy and elements of numeracy at the same time.

From language development to learning to read

At Little Scholars, we have a specific approach to learning to read. It’s called the 3a Abecedarian Approach Australia to reading. This is where children are active in conversational reading.

A long 1970s study in the US was the basis for the now well-adapted approach. The Abecedarian Project was a controlled scientific study of the potential benefits of early childhood education for disadvantaged children. Children born between 1972 and 1977 were randomly assigned as babies to either the early educational intervention group or the control group.

Children in the experimental group received full-time, high-quality educational intervention in an early learning setting from infancy through age

  • Educational activities consisted of “games” incorporated into the child’s day
  • Activities focused on social, emotional, and cognitive areas of development but gave particular emphasis to language
  • Children’s progress was monitored over time with follow-up studies conducted at ages 12, 15, 21, and 30
  • The young adult findings demonstrate that important, long-lasting benefits were associated with the early childhood program

At the age 30 follow-up study, the treated group was more likely to hold a bachelor degree, hold a job, and delay parenthood, among other positive differences from their peers.

How our reading approach works

The 3a Approach encourages the adult and child to go ‘back and forth’ in conversation. There are three main levels to try – the first level is seeing, then showing, then saying.

Make it a conversation by asking your child to do something and not always following the words in a book.

“Can you see an owl? “Can you say owl?” “Can you show me an owl?”

At Little Scholars, we start with comprehension when looking at books – the thinking and talking about and enjoying the books we read together either in a group or one-on-one. Once children have a connection to books and reading, that’s when we can start teaching the ‘word parts’ of being a reader.

This is also something parents can and should do at home. Working with families is a core part of the Abecedarian approach! Parents are their children’s first educators, so we believe it’s to support families to grow in confidence as their children’s first educator, and reading together daily supports successful young readers. If you’d like to learn more, talk to your children’s educators or your campus manager for more information.

Read more:

We have the very best early education educators at Little Scholars School of Early Learning. It’s our great honour to present our 2023 Little Scholars Employee Award winners. 🎖

These outstanding recipients, through some challenging times, have demonstrated their dedication, commitment and have gone above and beyond this year with fellow educators, children, and parents. Time and time again they show us, their peers and the families who they have the privilege of looking after their enthusiasm, their eagerness to learn and grow, and their unfaltering dedication to educating and developing small humans.

Ella

Ella Stanton

Inspire – Little Scholars Pillar Award 2023
Learn more about Ella

How long have you been an educator, Ella?
I have been an educator for four years now, and with Little Scholars since my placement when I began my certificate 3 at TAFE.

How did you start your career?
I had been looking at Little Scholars as a centre for my daughter since I was pregnant and fell in love with it from the get-go. Since beginning to have my daughter at the centre, I saw the love and care that the educators gave the children. Working with children had always been on my agenda as I used to study to be a music teacher and knew I could do so much more as an early childhood educator to assist the children in excelling in all areas before beginning “big school.”

What did being recognised for the inspire award mean to you?
The award completely blindsighted me as I turn up to work each day just to do my best for these little humans so to be recognised for my relationship with the children in my centre was so special to me and really instilled my role within the company and the importance I hold alongside my other educators in this industry.

Ella’s nomination
Ella is an educator with the Little Scholars Deception Bay campus, which recently was assessed Exceeding under the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care.

In Ella’s nomination to us, it said, “Ella is an inspiration for all in the Deception Bay community. We had some outstanding feedback from the department through our assessment and rating process. Before the process even started, the assessor had mentioned the passion and authenticity observed in Ella’s interactions with our children, families and community. In the assessor’s words – ‘she could sit and watch Ella all day long.’ From one of Ella’s colleagues, ‘the educator she is, is who I aspire to be in my future teaching career. She is strong, but also so caring to each individual child.’

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Ellissa Gunn

Learn – Little Scholars Pillar Award 2023
Learn more about Ellissa

Ellissa is a lead educator at our Ormeau Village campus. She was named winner of the Pillar Award in the Learn category because she stepped up to become a lead educator, and we’re told she is always happy to keep learning from her peers and further her education in the sector.

How long have you been an educator?
I’ve been an educator since I was 16, but even younger I was at my mum’s centre helping out wherever I could.

How long have you been with Little Scholars?
I’ve been with Little Scholars for about 18 months, since Ormeau Village opened.

What made you want to become an educator?
I think just having the inspiration of my mum being in that environment, seeing what she does, seeing how she helped shape the children, it made me want to do it as well. Just seeing how I could help children as well.

What did winning the award mean to you?
I’m always trying my absolute best to do the best possible work I can do, so it meant that someone else was seeing that, that it was appreciated. It’s made it feel worth it!

What do you like about working with Little Scholars?
Just the support and having the creative freedom to do things that I couldn’t do at other places. Like taking them on Bush Kinder adventures and all these other fun things they get to do that they may not have the opportunity to do anywhere else. And everyone at head office as well, like Susan, Mel and Jae-them being so active in our centre, that’s something I really appreciate as well.

On the quick move from an assistant educator to lead educator, Ellissa says:
The support I had helped me to grow so fast, because if I was somewhere else and didn’t have the support, I probably wouldn’t have become lead, but the support from everyone about what I could do, what I would have to do, really helped when I stepped up.

Ellissa is finishing up her studies with her Cert III, then she’ll be moving onto her Graduate Diploma.
From the award submission: Ellissa has stepped up into her Lead role during last year and we have watched her grow from assistant to well-deserved Lead and take charge in her space, leading her colleagues while taking feedback on board and striving to excel.

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Jackie Lowe

Contribute – Little Scholars Pillar Award 2023
Learn more about Jackie

How long have you been in educator?
I’ve been an educator on and off for about 20 years. I’ve been with Little Scholars for a year now.

Hey that’s pretty good to get recognised in your first year!

I know it was so good!

What’s made you want to become an educator?
Just from being young and starting off babysitting, which I loved, and then Year 12 back then we had work experience and that was just going to a centre and from that first day I knew what I wanted to do. I just fell in love with it, and from then it was my goal to finish school and become an early childhood teacher

What is it now, 20 years on, that you still love about working in this sector?
It’s just the love of being around children, i’m just being with a team of educators, and I missed that like when I went away from it and did my business, I just missed it so much. It’s just working children just gives me so much joy.

All my children are older, are grown up, and it was just not a grandmother yet or anything it was just that feeling, it just going back into a centre and it just makes me so happy.

You won the Pillar Award for ‘contribute’ and you’re known as a ‘jack of all trades’, what do you do?
No job is too big or too small! I do the bus, I’m the after-school care educator, I can work in the kitchen, I can listen to other team members, there’s nothing that I won’t try! That’s just who I am, when I’m needed, I’ll do anything to help the team out.

Especially your first year at Little Scholars, what did winning an award mean to you?
My goodness, it was just so good, firstly I was surprised, but it was then good to know that the little things that I’m doing are noticed, I felt like, ‘Wow I am noticed!’ It just made me feel so happy knowing that all the jobs that I am doing people have recognised it, so yeah so then makes you feel like you are doing a great job!

I love working for Little Scholars. It’s an amazing company, I’ve worked with the other centres before, Little Scholars is just amazing and I’m happy to be there and helping out.

In Jackie’s nomination, campus manager Elise said, ‘Jackie is our jack of all trades! Jackie fits many hats at our campus. From driving the bus to being in the studios to going on vacation care, she wears her many hats with a smile on her face. Her bubbly nature and willingness to help the team wherever needed is admirable. We appreciate her dedication and consistent contribution to the campus.

Aleisha Relph

Aleisha Relph

Grow – Little Scholars Pillar Award 2023
Learn more about Aleisha

Ellissa is a lead educator at our Ormeau Village campus. She was named winner of the Pillar Award in the Learn category because she stepped up to become a lead educator, and we’re told she is always happy to keep learning from her peers and further her education in the sector.

How long have you been an educator?
I’ve been an educator since I was 16, but even younger I was at my mum’s centre helping out wherever I could.

How long have you been with Little Scholars?
I’ve been with Little Scholars for about 18 months, since Ormeau Village opened.

What made you want to become an educator?
I think just having the inspiration of my mum being in that environment, seeing what she does, seeing how she helped shape the children, it made me want to do it as well. Just seeing how I could help children as well.

What did winning the award mean to you?
I’m always trying my absolute best to do the best possible work I can do, so it meant that someone else was seeing that, that it was appreciated. It’s made it feel worth it!

What do you like about working with Little Scholars?
Just the support and having the creative freedom to do things that I couldn’t do at other places. Like taking them on Bush Kinder adventures and all these other fun things they get to do that they may not have the opportunity to do anywhere else. And everyone at head office as well, like Susan, Mel and Jae-them being so active in our centre, that’s something I really appreciate as well.

On the quick move from an assistant educator to lead educator, Ellissa says:
The support I had helped me to grow so fast, because if I was somewhere else and didn’t have the support, I probably wouldn’t have become lead, but the support from everyone about what I could do, what I would have to do, really helped when I stepped up.

Ellissa is finishing up her studies with her Cert III, then she’ll be moving onto her Graduate Diploma.
From the award submission: Ellissa has stepped up into her Lead role during last year and we have watched her grow from assistant to well-deserved Lead and take charge in her space, leading her colleagues while taking feedback on board and striving to excel.

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Rachel Ferguson

Little Scholars Ashmore Campus
Educator of the year – Campus Managers Choice

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Leilani Fulton

Little Scholars Ashmore Campus
Educator of the year – Peer Choice

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Felicity Traynor

Little Scholars Burleigh Campus
Educator of the year – Campus Manager Choice

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Jodie Dzanir

Little Scholars Burleigh Campus
Educator of the year – Peer Choice

Deception Bay

Hayley Yates

Little Scholars Deception Bay Campus
Educator of the year – Campus Manager Choice

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Ashley Newett

Little Scholars Deception Bay Campus
Educator of the year – Peer Choice

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Maria Fierro

Little Scholars George St Campus
Educator of the year – Campus Manager Choice

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Amanda Fitisemanu

Little Scholars George St Campus
Educator of the year – Peer Choice

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Natalee Rixon

Little Scholars Nerang Campus
Educator of the year – Campus Managers Choice

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Jekoba Lino

Little Scholars Nerang Campus
Educator of the year – Campus Manager Choice

Ormeau

Mahtika Atherton

Little Scholars Ormeau Campus
Educator of the year – Campus Manager Choice

Ormeau (2)

Skye Bassett

Little Scholars Ormeau Campus
Educator of the year – Peer Choice

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Kim Hall

Little Scholars Ormeau 2 Campus
Educator of the year – Campus Manager Choice

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Sheridan Palmer

Little Scholars Ormeau 2 Campus
Educator of the year – Peer Choice

Ormeau Village (2)

Shaylee Campbell

Little Scholars Ormeau Village Campus
Educator of the year – Campus Manager Choice

Ormeau Village

Amanda Olsen

Little Scholars Ormeau Village Campus
Educator of the year – Peer Choice

Melina

Melina Solway

Little Scholars Redland Bay South Campus
Educator of the year – Campus Managers Choice

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Holly Hall

Little Scholars Redland Bay South Campus
Educator of the year – Peer Choice

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Lauren Bachmann

Little Scholars Redland Bay Campus
Educator of the year – Campus Manager Choice

Redland Bay

Rachel Clough

Little Scholars Redland Bay Campus
Educator of the year – Peer Choice

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Jodie Gray

Little Scholars Pacific Pines Campus
Educator of the year – Campus Manager Choice

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Brooke Gilbert

Little Scholars Pacific Pines Campus
Educator of the year – Peer Choice

Stapylton

Gordon Payne

Little Scholars Stapylton Campus
Educator of the year – Campus Manager Choice

Coming

Teagan Mitchell

Little Scholars Stapylton Campus
Educator of the year – Peer Choice

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Anelle Britz

Little Scholars Yatala Campus
Educator of the year – Campus Manager Choice

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Tori Banks

Little Scholars Yatala Campus
Educator of the year – Peer Choice

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Let us hold your hand and help looking for a child care centre. Leave your details with us and we’ll be in contact to arrange a time for a ‘Campus Tour’ and we will answer any questions you might have!