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:

Reading with children is transformational – it helps with communication and language development, cognitive skills, inspires imagination and creativity, serve as conversation starters, we could go on and on. It’s also fantastic bonding time that will create memories to last a lifetime. You probably know all about Little Scholars approach to reading, and that it’s a big part of our educational programming. Lately, we’ve been thinking about books that have really stuck with families and educators and of course, children! We thought we’d share some of our favourites, and they’re linked to Gold Coast and/or Brisbane libraries so you don’t have to spend a dime if you need some new reads!

Piranhas don’t eat bananas

This is one of my favourite books to read with children. It’s great for when you have a picky eater or when trying to introduce new foods that children are hesitant to try. – Claire, lead educator, Little Scholars Nerang

By Aaron Blabey, published 2017

Reading ages: ‎ 3 – 6 years

Synopsis: ‘Hey there, guys. Would you like a banana?’ ‘What’s wrong with you. Brian? You’re a piranha.’ Brian loves bananas. Trouble is, Brian’s a piranha. And his friends aren’t happy about his fondness for fruit. No, they’re not happy at all

City of Gold Coast Libraries

Stop the Clock

I recently checked this book out of my local library and read it with my three-year-old daughter. It resonated with me as mornings to get ready with drop-off at Little Scholars Burleigh and get to myself work are so rushed. In this story, I got a better understanding of what that constant hurrying might be like for my toddler, who just wants to start her day by enjoying some time at home, and with her parents.

Since we read this book, I’ve intentionally slowed down, calmed my typical encouragements to move faster and try to find time ways for more connection, with a quick story before we leave or we make up stories in the car. The point in the book of slowing down has even helped with hard moments my daughter might be having by stopping together, going or looking outside and starting to point out all the things we see. – Christina, social media and marketing specialist.

Author: Pippa Goodhart, published 2022

Reading ages: 4-7

Synopsis: Life is so busy! On his way to school, Joe is missing all the exciting things happening around him – he is in such a rush, he doesn’t even notice his little sister crying! Given a task to draw what he saw on his way to school, Joe decides to stop time to appreciate all the little details that make life meaningful, and find out why Poppy was crying.

City of Gold Coast Libraries & Brisbane Library

This is a ball

My favourite book to read to the children is This is a Ball. I recommend it for the kindergarten-aged children. It’s a crowd favourite and allows everyone to be a little bit silly! – Hayley, lead educator, Little Scholars Yatala

Author: Beck and Matt Stanton, published 2017
Reading ages: 4-8

Synopsis: For the Grown-Ups: You know how you’re right all the time? All. The. Time. Yes, well, it’s time to give the kids a turn. Which is why everything you read in this book is going to be wrong. But that’s ok, because the kids are going to correct you. And they’re going to love it!

City of Gold Coast Libraries & Brisbane Library

I wanna be a Great Big Dinosaur

This is one of my favourites from a while ago. It’s really fun to read and get children involved in, as you can make actions to the words and change your tone to match the images. It’s light reading and a feel good ending. – Yvette, educational lead, Little Scholars Burleigh

By Heath McKenzie, published 2016

Reading ages:4-8

Synopsis: More than anything in the world, one little boy wants to be a great big dinosaur. And he’s in luck! A great big T. Rex shows up to teach him how to stomp and roar just like a dinosaur. But dinosaurs aren’t so great at soccer or video games… Maybe being a little boy isn’t all bad? A story about being whoever (or whatever) you want!

City of Gold Coast Libraries

Pig the Pug

I love reading the Pig the Pug series. All the different stories are such a fun, playful rhyming with lively pictures that always capture the children’s eyes and thoughts leading to conversations and their interpretations of the pictures/story.  I also love that in every book, Pig the Pug comes to see the value of honesty, friendship, sportsmanship and gratitude. -Skye, lead educator, Little Scholars Pacific Pines

By Aaron Blabey, published 2014
Reading ages: 3-5

Synopsis: Pig is a greedy and selfish Pug. He has all the bouncy balls, bones, and chew toys a dog could ever want, yet he refuses to share with his poor friend, Trevor.

City of Gold Coast Libraries & Brisbane Library 

Rainbow Fish

In our kindergarten room we absolutely love to read the Rainbow Fish, it is an important story to us as it shows the importance of friendships and how to make friendships, which as we enter our final year of pre schooling before big school is so important and timely! As well as this we love learning and reading The Colour Monster daily, this book teaches us to identify our emotions and how each one may make us feel. – Ella, educator, Little Scholars Deception Bay

By Marcus Pfister, published 1995
Reading ages: 4-8

Synopsis: The Rainbow Fish learns that being the most beautiful fish in the sea can be lonely. Ultimately he learns that there is more to be gained by sharing his special qualities than by keeping them all to himself.

City of Gold Coast Libraries & Brisbane Library

Going on a Bear Hunt

I love Going on a Bear Hunt (and even better, Going on a Croc Hunt) because it’s predictable and repetitive, which supports the children in recounting the story and their comprehension skills. It’s also super fun because it can be used in combination with actions to make it a physical retelling! – Jaidyn, lead educator, Little Scholars Ormeau 2

By Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury, published 1993

Reading ages: 3-7

Synopsis: For brave hunters and bear-lovers, the classic chant-aloud by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury.Follow and join in the family’s excitement as they wade through the grass, splash through the river and squelch through the mud in search of a bear. What a surprise awaits them in the cave on the other side of the dark forest!

City of Gold Coast Libraries & Brisbane Library

The Elves and the Shoemaker

One I always remember! As a child my Nanna would read this to me when we visited, and I loved the magic it brought to my imagination. As a adult I love the storyline behind it and how amazing the message is, how important it is for children to learn. Helping others in need also looks at if you help someone, the good karma will always come back to you. – Sarah, educator at Little Scholars Deception Bay.

Retold by various authors
Reading ages: 2-5
Synopsis: A classic fairy tale about two selfless shoemaking elves shows the joy that comes from giving–and receiving–generosity and kindness.
Come and see the Little Scholars difference

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!

Come and see the Little Scholars difference

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!