Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.
“Art is thought expressed through the hands.”
— Unknown author
Most young children are natural artists. Some of an infant’s earliest responses are to color, light and shapes. These responses help an infant recognize differences while exploring and learning about their world. This “learning through the senses” at a very early age helps a young child develop higher level cognitive skills, such as, reasoning, identifying symbols, and developing language.
Learning colors, recognizing shapes, and starting to “make pictures” in their minds are important pre-reading skills. Often, a beginning reader looks to the picture for clues about the words.
Connecting art to learning is a great educational tool and something I use in my classroom every day. It’s easy to do at home as well.
Here are three simple artistic ways to help your young child become a better reader and writer.
Create an “Art Box” in your home. Fill a cardboard box with crayons, old wallpaper scraps, ribbon, glitter glue, construction paper, markers, stickers, scissors, etc. Bring it out on stormy days and let your child have creative fun. Working with different textures, shapes, and substances helps improve her fine motor skills.
Children love working with rebus sentences. A “rebus” sentence is a combination of pictures and words. On a piece of paper draw an “eye,” a “heart,” write the word “my,” then draw a “dog.” Have your child read the sentence to you. I love my dog.” Then have him draw a rebus sentence of his own for you to read.
Save your old catalogs and magazines. Let your child go through them to find, cut and glue pictures that start with specific letters. Begin with an easy letter. For example, on the top of an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of construction paper write the letters “Bb” Then let your child look through the catalog or magazine for pictures that begin with "Bb" (upper case and lower case). Periodically do this activity for all letters. When the alphabet is complete staple the papers, in alphabetical order, and your child his or her own creative book.
Art is a universal “language” that often makes a dramatic difference in developing reading and writing comprehension.