Irish Policy surrounding the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) sector endeavours to improve the quality of childcare provided by creating departments that aim to promote and improve professional practice in ECEC services. The Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education (CECDE) was launched in 2002 to inform and advise the Department of Science and Education on policy issues relating to the educational needs of young children (0-6 years). Within these departments it is acknowledged that the children most at risk of reading difficulties are those who begin school with lesser verbal skills than their peers and this could be the result of a limited access to books in the early years. National Strategy to Improve Literacy and Numeracy among young children and young people (2011-2020) was launched in July 2011. Two key areas of this strategy are to improve teachers’ and ECEC practitioners’ professional practice through educational changes and to foster an enjoyment of reading in pre-school children (Department of Education and Skills, 2011). Learning ALOUD contends that storytelling as pedagogy can help to bridge the gap that formal learning fails to meet, whereby the educator can support children to interpret and understand lived experiences.
Storytelling as a method of teaching was identified and endorsed by Egan (1984), when he asserted that storytelling is a model of teaching which holds great potential for helping children understand meaning and connection expressed through storytelling and interactions. ‘The method of oral storytelling as pedagogy is a shared experience through which the teller builds a connection with the listeners and the key to building a good story session is in the tellers ability to build the relationship with the listeners and draw individuals into the storyline (Philips, 2013). This model was further explored by Cooper, et. al. (2007) who suggested that children benefit from authentic literacy activities which have been shown to prepare children for a wide range of developmental areas.
My professional positionality underlining the creation of Learning ALOUD is influenced by my interest in finding a way of teaching that is:
The knowledge that children whose social and emotional development is supported in their early years have greater life chances drives me to show others how storytelling is a holistic and FUN way to learn which will have a positive impact on children who engage with it.
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