Social Literacy in Preschoolers with Developmental Delays
Reading to Your Preschooler with Developmental Delays
LoneStar LEND is a training program that helps to foster leaders in the Autism and intellectual disability field. The LEND program hopes to use this website as a resource for parents looking to gain further information on how to effectively read to children who might experience learning challenges. Many children with autism or other neurodevelopmental challenges are homeschooled, especially during the current state of the pandemic. LoneStar LEND hopes to relieve some of the stress of learning to be an effective teacher. Our intent is to help all children learn and improve in their cognitive, language, and social skills. By helping children with neurodevelopmental delays develop an appreciation of reading with caregivers, we have the opportunity to help children reach their full potential. The effort will come from them, but it’s important that we do what we can to have them believe that the effort will be worth it.
Formal literacy instruction involves teaching children reading, writing, and oral skills. In these lessons, we will be focused on helping parents instill an appreciation of reading in young children who might have language, cognitive, or social delays. We have grouped the lessons into 4 stages for teaching early reading skills and parent engagement. Early literacy begins in the home and is an important step in helping children to learn to communicate with their family, peers, and the wider community. Children who are not given the tools and opportunities to do this may become frustrated and ‘act out’ due to their inability to communicate their needs and wants. Early literacy is vital for school readiness. When a child is developmentally able to understand the components of literacy, this prepares them for the teaching and learning that will take place at school.
When reading to a neurotypical child the engagement required for reading does not have to be directly taught. It is typically part of the child development stage that they become inquisitive with books when having their parent/caretaker read to them since they have successfully developed skills like joint attention (the ability to focus on something with someone else). Generally, a preschooler with developmental delays (DD), neurodevelopmental disorders (ND), or intellectual disabilities (ID) may not have acquired skills that make reading beneficial. The absence of these skills makes the process itself challenging.
This website is a resource to aid parents in promoting literacy engagement between caregiver and child. Understanding the benefits of reading, having greater knowledge about what books to choose, knowing the importance of a routine, and learning what techniques to use while reading can create a pathway for communication between parent and child. Practicing healthy ways to communicate can foster a close relationship that promotes a sense of well-being in your child.
This website includes pages that focus on Socio-Emotional Learning, Book Selection, Social Literacy, and Social Language to help provide parents with the tools to make reading to their children more enjoyable and educational. The Socio-Emotional Learning page introduces and explains Socio-Emotional learning, as well as the importance of reading to your child. The Book Selection page provides resources that help parents choose books that fit their child’s needs, as well as including a selection of books that have been recommended for use with children who might struggle with language. The Social Literacy page details the importance of finding a reading space and creating an efficient schedule that has the potential to make reading more enjoyable for you and your child. Finally, the Social Languages page describes different kinds of language found in books. The information and suggestions contained in this website should help parents make better decisions when reading with their children. The key to being a great teacher is having the motivation to teach, as well as the resources to teach well. The resources you need to teach these skills are here, so you are already halfway there!
Reading to Preschoolers Encourages Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)
What is Social-Emotional Learning?
Social-emotional learning is the process in which we acquire the skills to form close relationships, develop positive attitudes, and make good decisions. This type of learning is most often learned by observing others but can be taught to children as well.
How Can Social-Emotional Learning Help Children?
Social-emotional learning can help children identify their own feelings and emotions. SEL is related processing how a child feels about themselves and how they feel and relate to others. This translates to appropriate forms of expression that result in more positive family and peer relationships. In addition, adequate social-emotional learning and development can lead to increased confidence and greater independence later in life.
Why is Reading to your Preschooler is a Good Choice to Make?
Reading to your preschooler can be a great opportunity to discuss social-emotional topics that may not happen naturally in the presence of a parent or caregiver. For instance, when reading about an uncomfortable topic like bullying, children have an opportunity to learn how to prevent (or at least recognize) bullying in their environment. Reading as a form of social engagement activity can be beneficial to children with developmental delays as well. Because of existing social, intellectual, and/or motor deficits that may already exist, parents may want to enrich their children’s everyday experiences with books. This provides additional opportunities for learning more of these social-emotional skills.
The Benefits of Reading to Your Preschooler
In the sections below, we will provide the reader with an overview of how reading to preschoolers with developmental delays can lead to benefits in social-emotional skills. Benefits can be observed with parent-child bonds, emotional recognition and acquisition, speech/language and communication skills, motor skills, appropriate behavior, and other positive outcomes.
Strengthening the Parent/Child Bond
Reading to your preschooler can strengthen the relationship between a parent and their child. Physical closeness encourages secure attachments and assists in making children feel safe and develop trust. Making reading fun, as opposed to focusing entirely on learning/teaching, can create a positive attitude toward reading and fosters a close parent-child relationship. Without a doubt, parents and children who read together typically form stronger emotional bonds.
Emotion Recognition and Acquisition
An emotional vocabulary can be built by exposing children to new feeling words and discussing these words and their meaning while reading. Through reading, children can gain an appreciation of important character traits. For instance, as characters in books learn to develop empathy (i.e., the ability to relate and understand the feeling of others), we can teach our children about empathy while reading. In addition, children can learn how to better understand, detect, and appreciate emotions in others while reading. In short, important social skills can be taught when reading with children.
More Effective Speech/Language Skills and Communication
When reading to your preschooler parents can encourage practicing pronunciation of words as well as language skills like attentive listening and speaking. Language pragmatics help us communicate with others more efficiently and include turn-taking and recognizing information that is implied but not obviously stated. Joint attention (i.e., the act of focusing on what another person is focused on), can also be encouraged while children are reading with caregivers. Some preschoolers need extra help in these areas and reading time is a wonderful opportunity to practice these skills involved in communication.
Improving Motor Movements while Reading
Motor skills involve muscle control and coordination and are linked to social-emotional development. When attending to books children can use their eye muscles for tracking words and looking at pictures. When sitting up and reading with parents, children can strengthen their core muscles. In addition, children can improve in their visual-motor skills while pointing to and interacting with the book.
Gaining Socially Appropriate Levels of Knowledge
Books present an opportunity for children to interact and learn about objects and environments that they have not yet personally experienced. Parents can widen their child’s understanding of the world and help them relate to their peers while reading.
By choosing books that focus on teaching appropriate behavior and social skills, your preschooler might be able to improve in their ability to regulate behavior in social settings. In addition, reading consistently to children has been shown to be related to reduced hyperactivity and aggressive behavior.
Additional Outcomes of Early Exposure to Books and Social-Emotional Learning
Preschoolers that have been read to frequently find it easier to acquire knowledge and have higher levels of school readiness. More meaningful friendships can also be a result of more exposure to social-emotion learning.
MCH Leadership Competencies- Intro to Social Emotional Learning
* MCH Leadership Competencies are listed for the sole purpose of our SLP presentation and will not be published with the website.
I researched and made connections between Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and how the acquisition of these skills assists development in preschoolers with delays that more closely resembles that of a typically developing child in multiple contexts. In making these connections framing the information in a way that is easy to understand was a necessary component for allowing parents/caregivers to make these connections as well.
Although the activity may be challenging, this information teaches parents/caregivers about SEL and how reading can foster development in areas where their preschooler may be exhibiting delays. I clearly demonstrated how these benefits can extend throughout the lifetime of the child.
Working with Communities and Systems
A conscious decision to engage in the activity must be made by parents/caretakers. Through the distribution of this website to the wider community a recognition that ALL children should be read to can be gained on a scale that makes an impact in the minds of caretakers and the lives of children.
How Do I Know Which Book to Select for My Child?
Choosing the type of book to read.
Children who value hands-on activities (e.g., exploring the world through touch and feel), might enjoy reading books that are tactile and include shapes and textures. As children age, children who prefer tactile activities might also enjoy using a recipe to identify words and associate them with food. Another great strategy is to do a picture walk, where you essentially preview the pictures in a book before reading the book. These approaches can help the child to build background knowledge and confidence in the stories. Not surprisingly, one of the most important parts of reading is selecting the right book for your child. When trying to find the perfect book to introduce to your child, there are a few questions you should ask yourself to ensure that the book you pick is perfect for your goals.
- What is your child’s cognitive age?
- Keeping in mind your child’s cognitive age can aid in ease of understanding and comprehension.
- What lessons does your child need help understanding?
- Try to make a connection between what your child knows, what is read and how the child best grasps information.
- How long do you have to read/listen?
- Because it is important to make sure you keep a consistent schedule, picking a book that fits into the time you have allotted can be useful.
- What kind of characters is your child interested in?
- Characters of interest can assist in keeping your child focused on the book and motivated to read.
- Has your child asked about or shown interest in an object, person, place, or thing? Can you find a book that will talk about that subject?
- Choosing books or activities with familiar word associations, patterns, colors and concepts helps with engagement while introducing new information.
- Would having the physical book, having an electronic book, or listening to the book online be more beneficial to your child?
Picking the way you read to your child can be very important. Engagement and accessibility can vary, so choose an option that works for both you and the child.
Answering these questions can assist with efficient book selection. One of the worst feelings is purchasing a book that does not work for your child, so being knowledgeable of what to look for helps alleviate the stress of picking the right book. The process can evoke a feeling of apprehension but remember, choosing to access this site shows your commitment to help your child achieve their highest level of success in literacy. Refer to the “Parent Literacy Resources” tab for book recommendations.
Books For Parents
Guided Reading By Deanna Jump
Includes A Guided Reading lesson plan along with comprehension and workbook activities, trading cards for at-home learning, and reading level behavior.
Teaching Reading to Students Who Are At Risk or Have Disabilities by William D. Bursuck and Mary Damer
Includes topics like Explicit Reading Instruction, Phonemic Awareness, Beginning Reading/Early Decoding, Advanced Word Reading, Reading Fluency, Vocabulary Instruction, and Comprehension.
Teaching Language to Children with Autism Or Other Developmental Disabilities by Mark L. Sundberg
This book helps with implementing a verbal behavior assessment and intervention program for children with autism or other developmental disabilities (often termed the Verbal Behavior Approach). The book provides an easy-to-understand introduction to Skinner’s analysis of language with easy-to-follow examples of everyday language skills demonstrated by children. It also contains a brief language assessment system and a Behavioral Language Assessment Form that will give parents and teachers a quick overview of a child’s language skills. The assessment is followed by descriptions of the basic teaching procedures for developing early and intermediate mands, tacts, echoic, imitation, matching-to-sample, receptive language, and intraverbal skills.
Teach Reading with Orton-Gillingham: 65 Classroom-Ready Lessons to Help Struggling Readers and Students with Dyslexia Learn to Love Reading by Kristina Smith Heather MacLeod-Vidal
This book offers research-based suggestions and instructions to make reading multisensory and engaging. It has units that will include lessons, tips, pictures, reference charts, suggested teaching timelines, and more resources for learning.
Raising Special Kids by Dr. Jared D. Massanari and Alice E. Massanari: A Guidebook for Parents of Children with Special Needs
Raising Special Kids is a mutual support program that allows parents to share stories and explore what works and what doesn’t in their unique relationships between their children and families. Each chapter presents a central theme that weaves together their own needs and the needs of their child. The first four chapters address feelings and thoughts: how you learned about parenting, what you expected your child would be like, and how you have handled other challenging situations in your life.
My Feelings Workbook by Aaron Wiemeier: A Workbook for Teaching Children About & Developing Emotional Intelligence
This workbook is specifically designed to help children understand, deal with and process emotions and feelings on a nonverbal body level. It not only helps children figure out how they feel but WHERE they feel.
Coping Skills for Kids Workbook by Janine Halloran: Over 75 Coping Strategies to Help Kids Deal with Stress, Anxiety and Anger
Dealing with stress, anxiety and anger are important skills to learn, but not all kids learn those strategies naturally. The Coping Skills for Kids Workbook can help teach children to calm down, balance their energy and emotions, and process challenging feelings.
Reach For The Kids by Andrew S. Hogan
A series of storybooks for children dealing with emotional disorders and mental illness. The vividly-illustrated stories deal with anxiety, ADD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and depression with relatable characters. Each title covers one of five steps to manage emotional disorders. The last few pages of each book contain tips to guide a discussion: Using the Story to Teach Children About Emotional Disorders. This section helps the reader use the stories and illustrations when talking to children about emotional disorders and mental illness. Each book contains the following categories to create a dialogue after reading the book.
Books for Children
Ages 0 – 2
Touch and Feel Farm by DK Children
Packed with tactile areas for young children to touch and explore. The combination of photography and illustrations makes learning about animals fun for children.
Baby Signs: A Baby-Sized Introduction Speaking with Sign Language by Joy Allen
With this adorable board book of essential signs, babies and toddlers can easily learn how to communicate their needs, wants, and feelings and even make basic observations with a simple gesture.
See, Touch, Feel: A First Sensory Book by Roger Priddy
This sturdy board book, with bright photographs of happy babies, is specially designed to stimulate curiosity through sensory play. Each page has a colorful picture activity that invites baby to touch and explore. There are raised textures to feel, finger trails to follow, and a shiny mirror to look in to.
Rainbow Cloth Book Set for Babies by Top Bright
6 sensory books for infants 6 to 12 months feature numbers, animals, shapes, fruits, vehicles and visuals total SIX concepts in ONE package. Vibrant illustrations with bright colors and touchable textures increase 6 month old baby’s enjoyment of reading and exploring the world.
Simple First Words Let’s Talk by Roger Priddy
By pressing the buttons and matching the sounds to the pictures again and again, children will quickly and easily learn simple first words and develop their speech. A terrific, fun way to improve your child’s vocabulary and motor skills.
Never Touch a Porcupine! by Rosie Greening
This adorable touch-and-feel board book is great for children of all ages and fits perfectly into tiny hands. Children will love the silly rhymes that warn the dangers of touching the woodland animals-and then ignoring the advice!
Toes, Ears, & Nose! By Marion Dane Bauer
Play peekaboo with Baby in this bestselling lift-the-flap concept book.
Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book by Rod Campbell
A classic lift-the-flap book Dear Zoo has been a firm favorite with toddlers and parents alike ever since it was first published in 1982.
Ages 2 – 5
The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood
All quiet is not created equal. In this irresistibly charming picture book, many different quiet moments are captured and rendered in soft pencils and colored digitally.
Press Here by Herve Tullet
An interactive picture book great for toddlers, preschoolers, and early readers to learn about cause and effect in a simple and engaging way.
Hoppity Frog by Emma Parrish
A slide and seek book-Is he paddling through the pond? No, that’s Silky Swan! Children will love pushing out the sturdy sliders on each page of this board book until they find Hoppity Frog!
Around the Farm by Mark Rader
This interactive book has an attached 30-button audio module that enables children to connect sound to 30 unique animal illustrations.
Cookies! by Lotta Nieminen
Simple steps of baking cookies, from combining the dry ingredients to pulling fresh cookies out of the oven, while the interactive features invite them to participate in the process. Move the sifter from side to side to separate the flour, turn the wheel to mix the batter, pull the tab to crack the egg, slide the oven tray out, and more!
Special People Special Ways by Arlene Maguire
Each page portrays positive images of children with various disabilities. This book illustrates that beyond our physical limitations is a world of unique gifts for each of us to share.
My Five Senses by Aliki Brandenberg
Sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch—our five senses teach us about our world. This book features simple, engaging text and colorful artwork show young readers how they use their senses to smell a rose or play with a puppy.
Ages 5 – 8
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
An array of collages follows the progress of a mother and daughter as they plant bulbs, seeds, and seedlings and watch them grow into a rainbow of colorful flowers.
Too Much Noise by Ann McGovern
Peter thinks his house is noisy until the village wise man teaches him a lesson in perspective.
Ben’s Adventures: A Day at the Beach by Elizabeth Gerlach
A heartwarming children’s book series about a little boy who demonstrates the power of his imagination. In this fun first adventure in the Ben’s Adventures children’s book series, you’ll smile as you join Ben on his first adventure to the beach. He uses a wheelchair but shows he is just like any other child.
The Listening Walk by Paul Showers
A wonderful world can emerge from a walk with your father down the street and through the park, or even if you quietly listen in your back yard. Life is interesting when anyone opens their ears to what is going on around them.
What Should Danny Do? (The Power to Choose Series) by Adir Levy
With 9 Stories in 1, the fun never ends! What Should Danny Do? is an innovative, interactive book that empowers kids with the understanding that their choices will shape their days, and ultimately their lives into what they will be.
May I Please Have a Cookie? By Jennifer E. Morris
Alfie loves his mommy’s cookies, and he wants one more than anything! But grabbing for one, fishing for one, and dressing up as a cookie inspector don’t seem to work. His mommy says there is a better way. What is it?
In a Blue Room by Jim Averbeck
Alice is wide, wide awake. Mama brings flowers, tea, a quilt, even lullaby bells to help her sleep. But none of these things are blue, and Alice can sleep only in a blue room. Yet when the light goes out, a bit of magic is stirred up.
The Big Move by Marla Huehmer
The Big Move is a beautifully written and designed children’s book which focuses on alleviating the fears associated with moving to a new home from a child’s perspective. It creatively focuses on the positive aspects of a move and a fresh start in a new home in a fun and easy to understand way.
MCH Competencies- Book Selection
* MCH Leadership Competencies are listed for the sole purpose of our SLP presentation and will not be published with the website.
Developing Others through Teaching, Coaching, and Mentoring
This website will improve parent practices as well as support positive outcomes in a child with developmental disabilities. In my research, I have found evidence for improved reading skills when training is followed by a
teaching resource that will coach parents and provide follow-up support for effective implementation of newly learned skills/practices. I helped create a step by step tool that will empower parents how to implement strategies that will help their child develop the necessary skills to read.
This competency was achieved by introducing improved informative material that can be provided to caregivers of children with developmental delays to better communicate the importance and instruction of reading with their children. The website was created to allow access to valuable easy to read information at any moment.
Negotiation & Conflict Resolution
Within our SLP team, I helped find resolutions when presented with conflicts. Pivoting allowed us to produce a product that can benefit the community in promoting reading engagement between caregivers and children with developmental delays.
Social Literacy Routine
Find Your Reading Space
A reading space in your home can be something simple, such as a reading blanket, a certain rug or a comfortable chair. You can even use a prop, like a stuffed animal that signifies it is time to read. Make it consistent!
Make it comfortable. You want your child to connect reading with coziness and comfort.
Keep the area free of distractions. Choose an area that your kid will want to go to that is also away from televisions, entrances, exits, and other things/people that may take their attention away from the books.
Have a Reading Schedule
The more we perform tasks regularly and on a structured basis, it helps with our development of neuroplasticity and building pathways over time, which results in a more efficient way in accomplishing tasks.
Build a routine into your day so that reading becomes part of your daily schedule.
You want to take into consideration naptime, mealtime, playtime, and bedtime so that the child is not too distracted by tiredness, hunger, or extra energy.
Be aware of reading becoming the “boring” substitute to screen time. You do not have to choose one or the other, just make sure you schedule time for both activities.
A classic time to read to your child is bedtime, but you have to figure out what works best for you and your child. You can also read while giving your child a bath, right after school or in the mornings.
Be consistent! Whatever time you choose, stick with it so that your child will come to look forward to that time together and know what to expect.
Create a Visual Schedule
Use a visual schedule to strengthen children’s comprehension of the upcoming plan and give them a sense of predictability. This also allows them to feel like they have ownership of the schedule and can greatly help in transitioning.
Prepares children with a clear way of understanding the process involved in tasks and expecting future events so they’re able to organize their thoughts.
MCH Leadership Competencies- Social Literacy Routine
* MCH Leadership Competencies are listed for the sole purpose of our SLP presentation and will not be published with the website.
Gather and evaluate information to better understand how to aid parents in connecting with their Preschooler with Developmental Delays through literacy.
Improve my skills at clearly and effectively presenting information by collecting data in the study and presenting it in a visual format for parents of Preschoolers with Developmental Delays.
Negotiation & Conflict Resolution
As a team negotiate any conflict that arises between the team members to find a solution that still allows us to produce a product that will benefit the community in promoting reading engagement between parents and Preschoolers with Developmental Delays.
Promoting Social Language through Books
“Reading books with young children is one of the single most important things that adults can do to ensure children’s timely development of oral language and emergent literacy skills, both of which are necessary for success in school and, ultimately, in life.”
—Helen Ezell & Laura Justice, Shared Storybook Reading
The purpose of the next few pages of the website is to highlight to the parent how to promote social language in books once the parent understands the importance of to reading to their child, has made an appropriate book selection, and established a literacy routine.
The focus of promoting social language in literacy will revolve around the aspect of expressive and receptive language in children.
The parent model of Dialogic reading will also give parents a graphic tool on how to engage the child during the reading time.
Below is a resource for parents to use to help them in learning more about Dialogic reading and even a table that has books listed by age to give the parent a start to selecting books for the purpose of Dialogic reading. While all books can lead to the Dialogic reading model, it is helpful to have a list to look at when beginning to learn about Dialogic reading.
Promoting Young Children’s Early Language and Prereading Skills with Dialogic Reading (G2317) (unl.edu)
The use of Expressive Language allows an individual to be able to use gestures, words, and sentences to be able to communicate in the environment around them.
One approach for a parent / caregiver to increase expressive language skills in a preschooler with developmental delays is through books. If a parent or caregiver has limited access to books, feel free to use other printed materials to encourage language development (e.g., flashcards, family photos, magazines, digital books, etc.). Providing a child with a wide array of printed material can foster gains in a child’s expressive language.
When using a book or any language enriched material to promote expressive language, it is always best to focus on one target response that you are wanting the child to engage in that promotes participation in the story. Once they master the first target response that you have introduced to child you can then add another target response to the story. It is generally best to match the child’s targeted responses that you are requiring of them and match it with the developmental age of the child. For instance, if the child’s developmental age is 24 months ( 2 years), then the book you are reading to the child should only have two different targeted responses of expressive language. By using this method of age and required responses, it will tend not to overwhelm the child and have a better opportunity to increase the child’s expressive language and enjoyment of story time with the parent/caregiver.
Expressive response book video example:
In the video below you will see that the teacher is using both verbal and sign language to increase the child’s expressive response in the reading of the story. By giving the child a visual gesture to help increase their expressive language when paired with a verbal response it allows the child to have a better understanding of how expressive language works.
As you see in this book the teacher has two targeted responses for the learner; hear and ear.
You can also see how the teacher provides children with enough time to formulate a response. This is important as many children who struggle understanding language might also experience processing issues. In summary, it is important to always allow children enough time to process information and formulate a response.
When using books or language enriched materials to increase receptive language, it is best to have materials that are quite simple in nature and not overly stimulated visually. Wordless picture books are a great resource to use when parent/caregiver are working on receptive language with their child. When working on receptive language skills the parent/caregiver should target responses in the beginning that are simple and direct commands with the books. Example, touch the ball, point to the ball, find the ball. By using the simple direct commands with the labeling of the object, the child is then able to understand the gestures that are expected of them and them find the item they are being asked to locate and label.
Another receptive label could also be having the child respond when the parent/caregiver says, “turn the page”. Once the child can identify the targeted item like the ball, then you can begin to ask receptive questions that highlight specific features of an object (i.e., point to the red ball).
Receptive response video example:
In the video below you will see that the teacher is modeling strategies on how to promote receptive language in the learner by asking the learner to follow simple commands of having the learner point or find something in the book.
While this book is more for an advanced learner. You can simply use a story book with less words/pages that has engaging pictures that you have at home to work on receptive skills with your child.