This morning I got a call from overseas from someone asking for help with a curriculum for preschool age children. Not being a huge fan of canned curriculum, I told her she could look online but shared my perspective that: a) there’s no such thing as a standardized curriculum – it varies from country to country, state to state, and even county to county; b) it’s important to be aware of readiness and to ‘prime the pump’, so to speak.
I then asked her about what her specific concern was, and she told me that her young daughter (age 5) had trouble with the concept of sequencing in a story and was currently working with a speech therapist on this. I said that a child the age of that age was on the continuum of normal in absorbing this understanding. So, I continued, as long as the mother continued reading with her, the daughter would naturally pick it up without it being taught as a remedial skill.
And then the mother told me that was a problem, that she doesn’t read to her! Well, obviously that’s a huge part of why the child can’t follow storylines – she doesn’t have experience in sequencing stories! I explained to the mother that it’s unfair to say a child has a learning disability when they’re placed in an environment that they have no context to relate to or understand. It often happens that parents treat their child for their symptoms instead of looking at where the root issue is; this is an example of a child being diagnosed with a learning disability when the problem is the home learning environment. (I could go on and on with examples of this – it’s really upsetting when I see children labeled with their symptoms and then medicated or treated as if the child is the problem, etc, without anyone looking at what’s going on at home or making the changes that would make a difference for the child.)
Anyway, I suggested that the mother begin regularly reading with her daughter, and she told me they didn’t really own many books in their native language. I explained that could use/adapt what they have; kids don’t mind having the same book daily! However, here’s a great free resource has children’s books to read online in 73 languages for anyone who wants to increase the books they have available to read to their children – it’s the International Children’s Digital Library. Even if you have a great library near home, this can be a great way to access books in foreign languages!