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Education & Development

Reading and child development: The Our Story app: Why can Our Story provide the first steps towards reading?

Updated Thursday 19th May 2011

Sharing stories and telling stories are a powerful resource - how does Our Story help you tap into that power?

Two major aspects of successful early learning guided our thinking in developing the app. First, it is the value of personalisation in early learning and second, the importance of story sharing for knowledge and skills acquisition. Let us briefly tell you why.

We believe that these social factors are an important factor in motivating and engaging in children so that learning is fun and they feel positive about books, reading and literacy.

Child's drawing from an example screen in the Our Story app Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: The Open University

Story sharing

Story sharing can be described as a powerful human resource we draw on to make sense of our lives. With the apps, story sharing becomes an amalgam of story telling and story reading. The latter is a well-known and widely researched aspect of early reading instruction.

Researchers and early childhood professionals refer to shared book reading as ‘the way into literacy’, given its well known benefits for children’s language development. This is because children’s books contain a wealth of information, they include new concepts, words, pictures, other people’s stories and imagination. When children enter this rich world, they broaden their horizons and harness the benefits afforded by written communication.

Also remember that shared activities usually involve the child’s undivided attention and interest. This is known to be the basis of effective and positive learning. The adults’ role is crucial here as they can guide the child through this new world of knowledge, by pointing out and emphasising specific aspects of the book.

They also can ‘give the book life’ and emphasise and explain specific aspects of the book. For example, they can ask the child questions about the books’ characters to increase understanding, recall knowledge and develop their memory skills. So it is not surprising that sharing books with children early on is known to expand their vocabularies and increase children’s story comprehension.

We know that children who come from homes where books are read on a regular basis tend to do better at school and later in life.

Storytelling on the other hand, is an important aspect of literacy knowledge, often thought as prerequisite for children’s development of imagination, active speaking and listening skills. Children, who listen to stories on a regular basis, learn the flow of language and story comprehension.

Also, they usually become good story tellers themselves-a skill which is essential to build their own sense of identity and self-esteem. Ultimately, these skills lead to children’s increased reading skills, which are essential for all learning.

Personalised Learning

A particular way of learning, emphasised through our apps, is personalised learning. This is unique in the way it celebrates children’ and families’ culture, language, skills and accomplishments. Personalisation of the learning material facilitated by the apps means that any flashcard or story you create will be intrinsically meaningful to you and your child.

Building on previous personal experiences is very important for developing memory skills and was found to lead to children’ reading development. Also, building a story based on children’s own lives has been shown to increase children’s social skills such as self-worth and self-confidence.

Furthermore, the application can be personalised to your child’s previous knowledge and adapted to his or her individual abilities. This makes the apps not only a flexible but also sensitive tool to target each child’s individual needs and differences. The latter is an essential feature of successful learning processes, as we know that children learn better and faster in positive and comfortable learning environments.

Next: Making learning personalised and shared

Using the Our Story app

 

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

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