From From Birth For Life

Jump to: navigation, search



Action research: A tool of programme development consisting of continuous feedback that targets specific problems in a particular setting.

Anecdotal notes: Short notes describing important events or incidents which took place during a child’s daily routine.


Best practices: Practices recommended by respected professionals and for which there is some level of empirical evidence regarding effectiveness of the practice.

Balanced approach: A teaching philosophy which combines direct teaching with a child-centered approach.

Bidialectical: A dialect is one form of a language, Bidialectical children are those that speak or spend time in different environments in which two different dialects are used (e.g., Standard Canadian English and Newfoundland English).

Bilingual: An individual who understands, speaks, reads, and/or writes in two languages.


Checklists: Lists of specific behaviours arranged in a logical order allowing the observer to check the presence or absence of the item.

Cognitive development: The growth and change of mental processes related to thinking and learning.

Cognitive skills: Mental processes related to thinking and learning, such as memory, attention, and language.

Common noun: A noun that names a category of things or individuals (e.g., boy, carpet, restaurant).

Conscious: Includes everything within our awareness such as aspects of self, thoughts, surroundings and sensations.


Decontextualized language: Refers to people, places and things that are not visible to the speaker or listener, or to events at which the listener was not present; used in both writing and conversation.

Developmental milestone: Major markers in typically progressing children’s development; there is a great deal of variation at the age at which children achieve these skills (e.g., first words).

Deficit perspective: Assumption that parents lack the essential skills to promote success in their children; and that the dominant middle-class society’s child rearing behaviours and approaches, which are practiced in ELCC centres, are correct and all other approaches and perspectives are incorrect, inferior, and in need of changing.

Dialect: A non-standard spoken form of English. Different dialects of English are not inferior to the Standard English dialect as they contain their own complete grammar and vocabulary.


Elaborative techniques (conversations): Techniques used when interacting with a child in any setting. For example, following a child’s conversational lead, expanding on what they say, and using a mix of comments and questions during conversational turn taking.

Elaborative techniques (reading): Techniques used before, during and after shared reading which encourage the active participation of the child and are based on adapting reading style to a child’s changing ability. For example, first discussing why a Halloween book was chosen, then talking about the characters during reading and finally, discussing how the story personally relates to the child after reading.

Emergent literacy: Natural and gradual development of children’s listening, speaking, reading and writing abilities.

Empirical evidence: (a) Based on experimental observation; (b) Verifiable or provable by means of objective observation or experiment.

Environmental print: All print forms found in the daily physical environment such as logos and signs. Expressive language: The production of words and sentences using speech.


Facilitation: A less structured form of teaching that capitalizes on real-life contexts; providing support and assistance or a child or a small group of children to enhance an activity in which they are taking part (e.g., dictating the letters in the words “Happy Birthday,” so a child can write it on a card).

Family: The group of people that live with and care for children as they grow up, including biological parents, grandparents, siblings, adoptive parents, guardians, or others in the home.

Family literacy: see Home literacy

Fluency: Refers to the flow of speech. If there are interruptions, hesitations or pauses then a person has poor fluency.

Formal assessment: Usually conducted by a trained specialist in the particular area in question (e.g., speech). This person will use measurements which have been standardized across a large group, and measurements which have a set format for interpretation.

Formal print activities: Activities where the focus is on the print (e.g., practicing writing, or reading an alphabet book).


Holophrastic speech: The term used to describe the stage of language production when children use single words to represent a number of meanings (e.g., “go” means “The truck is moving” or “I’m leaving”).

Home literacy (family literacy): Includes the home environment and all activities that a child engages in or observes related to literacy within the home (e.g., watching a parent read the newspaper, or being read to by a grandparent).


Infant directed speech: The type of speech used in some cultures when communicating with an infant, characterized by exaggerated pitch and enunciation as well as a slowed rate with increased pauses (e.g.: “Do you want to smile for Mommy? Yes you do!”). Previously termed motherese.

Informal print activities: Activities where print is present but not the central focus (e.g., storybook reading).

Instruction: A more structured form of teaching that involves prior planning to meet specific goals; often occurs in larger group settings.


Joint attention: An adult following a child’s gaze to an object of interest and vice versa.

Joint writing activity: Any writing activity which a child takes part in with an adult’s help/facilitation (e.g., an adult helping a child write their name).


Multilingual: Refers to people who understand and speak two or more languages.


Nonverbal communication (non-linguistic): The use of physical actions and facial expressions to convey meaning (e.g. pointing, smiling and jointly looking at an object of interest).

Norm-referenced test: A standardized test that compares a child to a group of peers with similar characteristics such as age.


Observation and recording: Observations which are systematically recorded regarding children’s behaviour (e.g., physical actions, speech, facial expressions) and the context (e.g. snack time) of the observations.

Onset: The initial sound in a word or syllable (e.g. /b/ in ball, /k/ in cat and /t/ in tear).

Oral language: Spoken or verbal language.

Oral tradition: The use of verbal methods of passing on information through spoken communication and such mediums as storytelling; used in Aboriginal and other cultures.

Orthography: Refers to the visual representation of spoken language by letters and diacritics (symbols denoting stress and pronunciation); spelling.

Overextension: Occurs when a child assigns a more general meaning to a word than it actually holds (e.g. calling all four legged animals dogs).

Overgeneralization: Application of a grammatical rule to broadly. For example, adding –ed to all words to indicate past tense, results in correct (walked) and incorrect (goed) past tense formation.


Passive sentence structure: Sentences that are structured in such a way that the object of the action is the subject of the sentence (e.g. The TRUCK was driven by the boy).

Phonemes: The basic units of speech which can distinguish a different meaning in words; the spoken word ‘rope’ is made up of three phonemes /r/, /o/, / p/, and differs by only one phoneme from the spoken words “soap,” “road”, and “rip.”

Phonemic awareness: The understanding that words are made up of smaller sounds (e.g., phonemes) and that these sounds can be blended into words.

Phonetic awareness: Insight that every spoken word is a sequence of phonemes.

Phonics: Instructional practice for facilitating reading that emphasizes how letters and letter patterns are related to speech sounds.

Phonological awareness: The general ability to attend to the sounds of language without reference to meaning; ability to recognize sounds of language and talk about them. A more inclusive term than phonetic awareness. In practical terms, phonological awareness involves understanding that words break down into the following parts: phonemes, onsets, rimes, and syllables. A phoneme is the most basic sound of speech that allows you to tell two similar words apart. For example, the words “mat” (/mæt/) and “cat” (/kæt/) both have three phonemes and differ by only one phoneme. More specifically, “mat” and “cat” have different onsets, the first sound in a word, and the same rime, the sounds of the vowel and following consonants. Together, the onset and the rime form a syllable, for example /s^n/ is the first syllable in sunshine.

Phonology: The sound system of language, which includes the sounds used in speech as well as the rules used to combine them.

Physical environment: A person’s surrounding space (e.g., the home, child care facility, the streets in a daily walk).

Play-based observation: Observing children naturally engaged in play activities, which can reveal information regarding all areas of development including language and literacy.

Portfolio assessment: A structured method for collecting children’s work on a variety of achievement areas, usually done in conjunction with the child’s input.

Prelinguistic stage: Stage of language development that occurs before an infant has begun producing speech.

Print awareness: The knowledge that print follows rules (e.g., left-to-right, specific symbols for different sounds) and conveys meaning.

Print-rich environment: A physical surrounding which contains numerous examples of print (e.g., posters, books, logos, labels, etc.).

Productive Vocabulary: The words that the child uses when speaking.

Proper noun: A noun that names a specific thing or individual. In English proper nouns are usually capitalized (e.g., TD Bank, Sophie).

Protowords: A combination of sounds spoken by a child with a specific meaning that is not an actual word in their language (e.g., ‘baba’ to refer to a pacifier).

Pronoun: A word that substitutes for a noun (e.g. he, she, they, you).


Reading readiness: Is the point a which a child is ready to read, they have acquired all the skills necessary to progress to the next stage and begin formal reading instruction.

Receptive vocabulary: The words a child understands.

Reflective practice: Critically evaluating behaviour or beliefs in light of research, knowledge or experience, and modifying future actions based on the new information.

Relational contrasts: The comparison of two or more objects which in relation to each other contrast (e.g., big-little, heavy-light).

Reliability: The consistency of test results (e.g., same results when measure is given repeatedly). For example, a ruler is a very reliable tool because every time you measure the length of this page it will be 28 centimetres long.

Responsiveness (behavioural and verbal): A way of interacting with an infant or child which allows the child to choose the topic, style and pace (e.g., pointing and eye-gazing or babbling back and forth).

Rime: A term used in word segmentation and refers to all of the word or syllable except the first sound (e.g. g-et, p-art, t-ake).

Running records: Detailed notes made of a child’s or small group’s every behaviour during a certain period of time.


Scaffolding: Term used to describe when a more knowledgeable partner provides support and guidance to a younger child while they learn a new skill. Involves monitoring a child’s progress, and removing the supports as they are no longer needed.

Shared reading: A term used to refer to the interactive reading of a book between an adult and a child or small group of children.

Social environment: Includes all the individuals and groups that a child interacts with in their daily surroundings.

Socioeconomic status (SES): A way of categorizing groups of people or families using factors such as parent income, education, cultural background and family composition.

Syllable: A unit of pronunciation in language. In English, a syllable may consist of a vowel sound alone or a vowel sound with one or more consonants sounds preceding and following it (e.g., the first syllable of “above” is a single vowel sound /a/, the second syllable is made up of three sounds /b/,/v/).


Teaching: The variety of ways that someone can help others learn a set of practices; Those engaged in language and literacy practices (e.g., ELCC practitioners, parents, children) can help others become proficient in those practices; teaching occurs on a spectrum between instruction and facilitation.

Telegraphic speech: Children’s verbalizations which are typically composed of content words only (e.g., “Mommy go”).


Under-extension: A word that a child uses with a meaning that is more limited than the adult meaning (e.g., assuming that the word dog only refers to their family’s pet).


Validity: The degree to which a test measures what it is meant to measure.

Vocabulary burst: A period in language development in which the rate of learning new words increases dramatically.

Personal tools