Written by Judy Cowin, Director of Tutoring Services
Early literacy refers to the knowledge and skills young children need to learn to communicate, read, and write. There are six basic skills that make up early literacy and help determine whether a child will be ready to learn to read and write:
- Print Motivation: Developing an interest and curiosity in books and reading will motivate children to learn to read for themselves.
- Print Awareness: Noticing print and how books work: front cover, author, turning pages and following written words from left to right.
- Letter Knowledge: To read words, children need to understand that words are made up of individual letters. Start with shapes: how are they the same/different? Name and draw the letters in the child’s name.
- Vocabulary: Vocabulary helps children learning to read to associate words they already know.
- Phonological Awareness: The ability to distinguish between and manipulate sounds in spoken language; hearing similarities, differences, and patterns in words. Children who can hear how words separate into individual sounds are more successful at sounding out words when they start to read.
- Narrative Skills: Describing things, telling stories, knowing the order of events, and making predictions show that children are comprehending what they are reading.
What can we do to help build these skills?
- Start with rhymes! A child’s name (Pat and cat), fun things to do (clap and snap), and of course food (green bean or moose juice?) Just have fun!
- Next play with letters of the alphabet. Place objects in a bag and have children reach in, pick an item and tell what letter/sound the object starts with. Grouping objects with like sounds will help to reinforce that sound. Play “Hide and Seek”, or “I Spy” for objects that begin with ____.
- Going to the grocery store? Make a list with your child – let them write or say the first letter of each item needed. You can have them write the letter on their “list” and remind you of any item you forget!
- Developing language through song and rhyme: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, The Itsy-Bitsy Spider, or the ABC’s song. The ability to say or sing simple nursery songs not only will help to pass the time in the car or when waiting in line, it can improve future reading skills.
- Car rides are a great time to increase letter awareness. Look for license plates with a specific letter– counting the total number can also develop numeracy. Check out street signs and storefronts to identify letters large and small.
Horizon Academy offers a free reading screening for children ages 5-7 yrs targeting skills needed for emerging readers. Follow up Light up Literacy group classes are available for those needing to strengthen and engage in activities to build early literacy skills.
Judy Cowin and Allison Caplinger will be giving a lecture with more information on early literacy skills as a part of our LD Series! More information can be found here.