Literacies as a Result of Living is a research question that has been explored at Discovery Preschool since 2014. The title is both a hypothesis and a thesis statement, initiated by the consistent ask of our families, “When do children begin to write?” and “When do children learn the a, b, c’s?” As educators, we are committed to notice that children are powerful communicators from birth. As a result of this provocation in particular, we began researching how children expressed ideas through graphic communication and narratives. What are they telling us? What evidence of literacies is in their work? How do children learn literacies by just being?
Our Revealing the World Before the Word exhibit is a culmination of our investigations with children; celebrating the child’s desire to express ideas through narratives and graphicacy. At the present moment, there is not enough paper to list all the things we have noticed. Rather, our intentions are to reach out to engage other adults in a paradigm shift of our cultural understanding of the term literacy. As such, we began to refine our research -children learn literacies with a particular interest in “reading the world”.
This exhibit magnifies episodes of critical thinking moments that have been extracted from larger scale projects of children ages 2 months to 4 years of age in a child care setting over the past 8 years. Respectfully chosen, these moments inspired our research to become more sensitive to take notice of relationships with the world in graphics before the use of letters. As educators, we are continuously changed by the many powerful moments that children offer us.
Children’s graphic communication has always demanded our constant attention and research. We have selected these pieces with great care and trepidation as we do not wish to marginalize the importance of the entire story. Rather, the documentation provokes us to rethink ideas about the influence of children’s graphic literacies before the written code of the alphabet. Our research is supported by a focus on narratives through conversations and graphics and stress the importance of children and adults revealing the story together. The work of the children, educators and parents in Reggio Emilia, Italy has no doubt, been the inspiration of this work. Further research of Paulo Freire and his idea of literacies as reading the world, opposed to the more current belief that literacy refers only to letteracy has fuelled our fires. We wish to be brave enough and continue to disrupt understandings of pedagogy and practice as a critical and sociocultural perspective in the deep-rooted narratives in early learning. This exhibit is only a beginning of our research to come.