Promoting Early Literacy

Next week we celebrate books! The book fair will be going on all week, plus PreK3-Kindergarten students will dress up as their favorite book character on Wednesday. Becoming interested in and excited about reading is one of the best indicators a child is ready to begin emergent reading, but do you know the necessary foundational components? It’s so much more than letters and letter sounds! Here is a summary of the four literacy objectives necessary for developing successful readers and how you can support your child's development in each area. (You see these on your progress reports in Toddler 3 and up).

Phonological Awareness is the ability to discern sounds and patterns in spoken language. This is different from phonics – which connects sounds to symbols. We should begin activities that strengthen phonological awareness with infants and continue throughout early childhood. Most parents do this already by singing with children. Other great activities are reciting poems, clapping syllables, reading rhyming stories and practicing alliterative tongue twisters. As children get older, challenge them to play with words by asking them to delete or change sounds in words - such as "What is cake without the -c?" 

Alphabet Knowledge is being able to identify individual letters, understanding that letters are symbols that represent sounds, and recognizing that speech can be recorded in print using these letters to make words. Begin teaching alphabet knowledge by focusing on learning to identify individual letters and eventually their sounds as you read alphabet books, play with letter magnets and put together letter puzzles. To introduce the idea that letters are symbols that represent sounds and make up words, involve your child in reading and writing by narrating what you’re doing – for example when reading, point out a word and say, “This word starts with O, just like O-O-Oliver.”

Knowledge of Print includes knowing that print carries a message and that it is organized and read in certain ways. Children demonstrate a knowledge of print as they first learn that books can be read and how to orient them correctly, then they learn that we read from left to right and top to bottom, and eventually children learn to match written words with spoken words and acknowledge punctuation. A child who “reads” a book they’ve memorized may not be able to accurately point to each word they read, because they have not yet developed the print concept of one-to-one matching. Reading together with your child, pointing out the title, author, illustrator and tracking print as you read are the best ways to help develop knowledge of print.

Comprehension is the process of finding meaning - it is the joy of reading! Children comprehend text by connecting what they hear or read with their prior knowledge and experiences. We boost comprehension skills when we talk about books as we read them, discussing the pictures and asking higher-order thinking questions such as “Why do you think…” and “What might happen next?” Also, retelling stories and acting out scenarios in dramatic play are excellent comprehension boosters!

When reading that new book from next week’s book fair with your child, think about all the ways you are growing a successful future reader!


Sarah Good