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Teaching Navajo Children

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This idea works well with Navajo children who are emerging school literacy learners. This is not a new idea, but I found this to work successfully with Navajo children. While teaching Navajo early childhood students, I introduced them to writing and reading through the use of their own environment. Since many Navajo students still have strengths in using their visual abilities, this activity becomes a relevent way of becoming print aware. This activity begins by taking daily walks around the community while pointing out to the students various forms of symbols that display some meaning for the students, family members or the community members. As the students begin to connect these symbols to the printed text, their school literacy be gins to increase for them. While the students are becoming more aware of their environment, they are learning more vocabulary words that are meaningful to them. Throught the acts of recording what they have seen, whether these are drawings or squiggles, the children begin to incorporate many forms of early school literacy development. This activity beats trying to teach the alphabets one at a time and words in isolation. It also helps the Navajo child learn in the context of the whole universe that she or he is an important part of.

Name: Jennie DeGroat
Email: jdegroat@unm.edu
Location: Albuquerque, NM USA

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