Early literacy is what children know about communication, language (verbal and nonverbal), reading, and writing before they can actually read and write. It encompasses all of a child’s experiences with conversation, stories (oral and written), books, and print. Early literacy is NOT the teaching of reading - it is laying a strong foundation so that when children are taught to read, they are ready.
The image of the tree reflects: 1. aspects of early literacy, 2. the reading process, and 3. the adult’s role in developing early literacy in children.
- Oral language is the foundation for all later language. It includes speaking, listening and communication skills. The roots of language development also include non-verbal language, such as body language, facial expressions, and gestures. These developmental components make up the roots of the tree.
- The five early literacy skills in the leaves and branches have been identified by researchers as fundamental to reading comprehension as children learn to read. If children come to school with a solid background in these skills, it will be easier for them to learn how to read.
- As the adult, YOU are the sun. YOU make a difference in children’s early literacy development by practicing Every Child Ready to Read®'s five practices with your child every day. As you sing, talk, read, write, and play with young children, you have the opportunity to support their pre-reading skills in little ways that add up to make a difference by the time children enter school.
The Five Early Literacy Practices from Every Child Ready to Read®
The five early literacy practices of Every Child Ready to Read® (playing, reading, singing, talking, and writing) are instrumental in helping teach children the early literacy skills they need to be kindergarten ready. Each time one of these is practiced, the skill your child is learning will be reinforced. Keep practicing with them, and they will be kindergarten ready in no time!
Playing is one of the best ways for children to learn language and early literacy skills. By doing activities that help them put thoughts into words and talking about what they are doing, they are able to create a narrative and associate their vocabulary with their actions. Playing also helps them build social skills through their interactions with others!
Reading together develops vocabulary, comprehension, and a lifelong love for reading. Reading with your child can not only help motivate them to want to learn to read on their own, but it serves as a great activity for caregiver/child bonding! Make a goal to read 15-20 minutes a day.
Singing can help develop language-learning skills and slows down language so children can hear the different sounds in words. Through the repetition and rhyme in music, children can learn new words and comprehend new information. Don't worry about how good you are - your child will love it no matter what!
Talking to/with your child helps them learn oral language skills, one of the most critical! Children learn about language by listening to parents talk AND by joining them in the conversation. Ask your child open-ended questions that start with the 5 W's (who, what, when, where, why) to get them involved in conversations.
Reading and writing go hand in hand. Children learn that the printed letters make up words when they see them in their daily lives. Point out written words on signs and trace them with your child when you can.