Language- and Literacy-Rich
In this chapter we describe how to design classrooms that are rich in language and literacy learning opportunities. We describe six principles of literacy learning that guide decisions teachers make as they design classroom environments. Then we discuss the physical arrangements of center-based early childhood classrooms and explain how to expand language and literacy activities in every center. We describe dramatic play centers that are especially effective in encouraging children's pretend reading and writing, literacy-focused centers, and literature-based centers. Finally, we discuss the teacher's role in center activities and describe how teachers can interact with children within the context of language- and literacy-rich environments.
We know that young children learn a great deal during the first few years of their lives. Much of this learning occurs in the informal interactions between a parent and child as a natural part of living. This learning takes place during authentic activities—activities that occur during the ordinary routines of life (Neuman & Roskos, 1997). Authentic activities include going to lunch at a fast-food restaurant, stopping at the post office to buy stamps, and calling friends on the telephone to arrange for a ride. As a part of such meaningful activities, children acquire concepts about the nature and purposes of language and literacy practices as they are embedded in everyday life. Such knowledge-inpractice is powerful in socializing young children toward the particular literacy practices of their communities (Collins, Brown, & Newman, 1989).