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STATEMENT: 1. Dramatic play can be effective in developing and supporting young childrens literacy knowledge.

JUSTIFICATION: In early childhood programs, literacy can be introduced within dramatic play as an important foundation for childrens future literacy education, whereby children are able to explore different forms, processes and functionalities of literacy within a safe and secure environment without the risk of failure (Barratt-Pugh, Rivalland, Hamer & Adams, 2006). By engaging with literacy within dramatic play, children can begin to understand the importance of literacy as well as its function and relevance to themselves and their wider social contexts (Hall & Robinson, 2000; Hall, 2007). In order to create a literacy-oriented play environment that supports childrens literacy knowledge, the play experience must be relevant to childrens lives and experiences as well as providing opportunities to extend and develop childrens literacy knowledge (Hall & Robinson, 2000). Similarly, Barratt-Pugh et al (2006) state that play can support childrens literacy learning and narrative abilities (p. 77), and that children are able to successfully engage with various literacy experiences in play, irrespective of their individual level of literacy knowledge. On the contrary however, play can appear unplanned and haphazard in delivery, and the effectiveness and success with literacy development may not be immediately apparent (Smith, 2007).

STATEMENT: 2. Engaging childrens interests is an important component of literacy education. JUSTIFICATION: As outlined above, children in the early years of literacy development are constantly exploring the different functions and processes of reading and writing that are demonstrated in their wider social context through play, books and other literacy experiences (Emmitt, Zbaracki, Komesaroff & Pollock, 2010). However, in order to sustain and support childrens keen interest in literacy and enable them to become competent readers and writers, educators must provide texts that are engaging and relevant to the children in their setting (Emmitt et al, 2010; Merisuo-Storm, 2006). As Hall and Robinson (2000) note, literacy is often taught within an autonomous model (p. 87), which does not engage childrens interests, or with any meaning or relevance to their everyday lives. Similarly, Logan and Medford (2011) agree that even young children can demonstrate connections between their self-concept of literacy and their actual ability. That is, children who believe and tell themselves that they cannot do something will not keep trying, but a child who believes they can, will continue to persevere, even if the task appears daunting (Logan & Medford, 2011). Logan and Medford (2011) continue that children who are provided with interesting and stimulating literacy experiences are more likely to develop and sustain an intrinsic motivation to read and write in the later years of schooling.

STATEMENT: 3. Oral language competency and fluency is an important factor in childrens early literacy development. JUSTIFICATION: Early childhood has been universally recognised as being the period of fastest growth of language development and vocabulary acquisition than at any other time in a childs life (Jalongo, 2007). This means that on average, children aged between three to five years know up to 8,000 words and can learn an average of six to ten new words each day (Jalongo, 2007). Many authors agree that overall oral language competency and fluency is a solid foundation for literacy, and a childs language development in early childhood is integral to their literacy development in later life (Barratt-Pugh et al, 2006; Hill, 2006; Jalongo, 2007). Hill (2006) states that providing children with rich language experiences in the years before school can play an important role in developing childrens literacy and vocabulary skills in the later years of schooling (p.28). In early childhood, children begin to understand that language has many functions and processes, and that language can be used to make meaning (Emmitt et al, 2010; Hill, 2006). Hill (2006) explains in further detail that childrens success in oral language competency teaches the beginnings of phonology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics and vocabulary foundations for both reading and writing. Providing environments that support childrens oral language competency and fluency is integral to developing critical thinking, brainstorming and development of concepts and ideas through discussion (Emmitt et al, 2010).

STATEMENT: 4. Reading aloud to children from a young age develops a strong literacy foundation.

JUSTIFICATION: Reading stories aloud to children has traditionally been central to most early childhood programs, however there are multiple perspectives for consideration in understanding how reading aloud enhances childrens literacy development. Sheridan (2000) argues that reading stories aloud to children can facilitate a positive literacylearning environment, as teacher attitudes greatly influence childrens own attitudes, self-perceptions and motivations towards reading. Similarly, the frequency to which children are read to by adults increases childrens comprehension of the uses and processes of literacy, such as language, how books are read and different types of books (Sheridan, 2000). Beaty (2009) continues that through consistent and frequent read aloud sessions, children can begin to develop several key competencies for future reading and writing. These include recognising sounds in the words that are spoken, making connections between illustrations and text, and between words that are spoken and those in print (Beaty, 2009). Frequent group and individual read aloud sessions also aid in childrens memory development a precursor for reading and writing (Beaty, 2009). Early childhood programs should also allow adequate time to introduce and read new books, revisit childrens favourites and encourage children to choose books that they want to read (Sheridan, 2000).

STATEMENT: 5. Language experience approaches can help children to make connections between oral language, reading and writing. JUSTIFICATION: Literacy teaching strategies, such as language experience approaches, can support and scaffold childrens literacy development in early childhood, and can assist children in making connections between oral language, reading and writing (Hill, 2006). Language experience approaches can be undertaken through whole group, small group or individual discussions, however the process and prescribed outcomes for future literacy competency and success generally remain the same (Jalongo, 2007). Jalongo (2007) states that language experiences are central to developing childrens awareness of the conventions of text, promoting collaborative social interactions between children and the teacher, and involving children in the process of written language. On a similar note, language experience approaches create meaningful learning contexts for children, thereby promoting a sustained interest in literacy by valuing and respecting their involvement and contribution (Makin & Whitehead, 2006; Otto, 2008). As Annandale et al (2005) explain further, children who are beginning their writing journey in early childhood also known as role play writers can use language experience approaches to make meaningful connections between oral and written language, with space intentionally left blank for copying words underneath or other additions.