Questions and Answers - Set 1 - Following the publication of Wizzy's Words

Oct. 14, 2021

Following publication of Wizzy’s Words I have been asked various questions by parents, grandparents, carers and educators, with respect to its use and content. I have answered these questions here and hope that you find this helpful. Please do not hesitate to ask me any further questions that you may have with respect to the content and use of Wizzy’s Words. (Just click within the heading to go to the questions and answers section) Jacqueline

  1. Why did I do it? (produce Wizzy's Words)

    I have often asked myself that! Wizzy’s Words evolved from my making language resources as a teacher and school literacy leader. Parents often asked me for ways to support their child’s language development especially at parents’ evenings. I realised that a number of children were continuing to start school with a poor oral vocabulary, leaving them without the necessary language to start to learn to read and write. After extensive research I created Wizzy’s Words, a book of modern nursery rhymes. A book of fun rhymes for sharing orally with children from birth onwards. A book that contains the oral vocabulary that is known to underpin educational and life-long success.
  2. Why was it necessary? (The development of Wizzy's Words)

    We have a wealth of wonderful children’s authors, Michael Rosen and Jill Murphy being two of my favourites. However, despite an extensive search and being able to find many fabulous children’s books, including traditional nursery rhymes, I could not find a book that used spoken words as its reference point. Department for Education studies promote oral language development but their data shows that the need to plug this language gap remains. Furthermore, traditional rhymes, although fun and being great for sharing orally, contain the vocabulary from their times. Wizzy’s Words on the other hand contains the oral vocabulary known to be associated with building reading readiness today. The focus here, initially, is on developing a child’s oral vocabulary, as preparation for reading, not learning to read itself.
  3. Why from birth? (The recommended start point for using Wizzy's Words)

    My research has shown that entering school with an age-appropriate level of oral vocabulary is a signal for educational and life-long success. The words used in Wizzy’s Words are those shown by research with babies/children to be associated with this success. The research, also highlighted that later remediation is rarely successful. Children need to hear language before they can speak and use language. Birth (and maybe before!) is the ideal time to start immersing children in a language rich environment.
  4. Who is it for? (The intended audience?)

    Wizzy’s Words is for parents, carers, educators… It is for anyone wishing to support young children’s (or others) oral language development before school entry and beyond as appropriate. Ideally children will have the opportunity to develop their vocabulary from birth. Where this has not been possible, Wizzy’s Words can be used to develop this essential part of language development at any point. Current feedback has shown that Wizzy’s Words is being used with babies, toddlers, early year’s children and children with additional needs. The ability range as expected is extensive. Interest has also been shown from a tutor with students studying English as a second language! Wizzy’s Words is therefore suitable for sharing with anyone wishing to develop their early oral English vocabulary.
  5. Will the book help my child to talk?

    This is an important question. Generally, the answer is yes, if the child is exposed to a language rich environment from birth and there are no underlying language issues. Not surprisingly, studies show that the more words children hear the more extensive their vocabulary. ‘Hear it, say it…’ is an important maxim to quote here and is the gateway to reading and writing. So, yes Wizzy’s Words will help your child to talk. Remember some children take small steps, some take big steps and some take enormous steps. Learning is not a race.
  6. When and how to read Wizzy’s Words?

    Rather than seeing Wizzy’s Words as a way to read with babies and young children I would suggest from the start as seeing it as sharing the rhymes. This then promotes the sharing of language. More is not always better! Let your child lead you. Make it fun! As a guide I would concentrate on engaging your child/children first. Although we need to encourage children to look after books, I would suggest leaving it with their toys. Whilst it is a book for parents/adults to share with children, I made it bright and colourful so that it would be appealing to children. Developing an interest in language is one of the best gifts you can give a child. The older child may prefer the ebook format. If either the paperback or ebook is twinned with the audiobook then favourite rhymes can be matched and will aid the oral vocabulary learning. For the newborn or toddler, I would share the rhymes across the day at any time when you’re not too sleepy/busy! As children need to hear words before they can say them, sharing them with a child using the book or ebook or playing the audiobook in the background as children go about their important business, i.e., play, will all be effective. Equally, Wizzy’s Words can be used as a traditional lap book. It is designed to be shared on a 1-1 basis as traditional stories and rhymes are (although creative teachers are already adapting it for small group and whole class work). However, it is important for the adult to share the rhymes with the aim of helping the child to recite the rhymes not to read them in the early stages. The Wizzy’s Words, word sets have been added to create a complete resource. Initially the focus when sharing the book or ebook should be on the fun delivery of the rhymes in the most interactive ways you can find. The word sets are provided as a guide to the vocabulary being presented in each rhyme. (If leaving the audiobook to play the word sets will also be presented and will support your child’s vocabulary learning. As your child progresses towards reading, the word sets can be used to create simple flashcards or snap games. I have had feedback from the grandparent of a 3-year-old granddaughter who is using the word sets for word searching/matching to the rhymes.)
  7. How often do I need to read the rhymes with them? (the children)

    Again, I would suggest keeping the focus on sharing the rhymes rather than reading the rhymes. Yes, I am being pedantic but reading vocabulary necessarily derives from oral vocabulary so I make no apology! Share the rhymes as often as you can, as often as your child is interested. At least twice a day would be good but don’t be prescriptive fit the child. We all have busy lives but making time for your child’s language development is vital for them. If you cannot find the time to share the book or ebook, consider making the audiobook the focus. Listening will promote language learning whichever format you choose to use and whether it’s play time, dinner, bath time… A little tip, it is great when our children have a favourite rhyme or story isn’t it? Once this happens help your child to learn to recite this rhyme and then move on to reciting other rhymes to ensure that they continue to develop their range of oral vocabulary. Whilst not a necessity, when starting to use Wizzy’s Words see if you can find props around the house or in the toy box or make puppets to dramatise the rhymes. At the ‘right’ time, start to talk about the images. The images have been carefully matched to the rhymes and will provide lots of scope for future language development beyond the pre-reading stage (see the Wizzy’s Words Introduction, Guide and Next steps for more information).