Reading, and Learning, Together

New literacy guides take early learning out of the classroom and into the home

Clare Swan Early Learning Center (CSELC) is making reading a family affair, with a series of new caregiver literacy guides.

Designed to accompany a series of books published by Best Beginnings, the guides are meant to help parents support their children’s learning and to enrich the reading experience.

A page from one of four new literacy guides designed to accompany the Seasons of Alaska board books.

The guides are designed to accompany Seasons of Alaska, a series of four baby board books by Alaska Native authors and photographers that “provide a heart-warming glimpse into modern, rural Alaska life through the eyes of a child,” according to the Best Beginnings website.

Written by CSELC Curriculum Designer Charmaine Lundy and consultant Laurie Danahy, the literacy guides were shared with Best Beginnings and with parents whose children are enrolled with CSELC. Parents also received free copies of the Seasons of Alaska books.

“At Clare Swan, we’re big believers that parents are their children’s first educators,” said Ashley Bowen, a project manager for CSELC Alaska Native Education Program grants.

CSELC parents regularly have opportunities to be involved in the education of their children, with regular home visits, parent conferences, and daily check-ins with CSELC staff. The literacy guides expand on this involvement by giving parents a tool they can use to expand on the content of the books and connect the books to their children’s everyday lives.

The new literacy guides help parents teach their children with activities and lessons that expand upon the books.

Originally created for a teacher training held last year, the guides were developed using the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework, which lays out what young children should know and be able to do in their early years. “Using that framework allowed us to tie in performance standards for where a child is at a certain age,” explained Ashley.

The guides provide activities and ideas to support the social and emotional, physical, language, and cognitive development of young children. For example, the guide that accompanies the book Let’s Play Out! Summer in Alaska instruct parents to “Help children touch things in the picture as you count” or “Point out smiling faces in the pictures […] Talk about smiles.”

Charmaine and Laurie are working on an additional caregiver guide to accompany Making Akutaq, a wordless book published by CSELC through a kindergarten preparedness grant.

Learn more about early learning at CSELC here.

Check out the guides here: