What is Early Literacy?
Early literacy describes what children know about reading and writing before they can actually read and write.
Research shows that children get ready to read years before they start school. You can help your child learn important skills now so he can become a good reader.
Parents are important in helping their children get ready to read.
- You know your children best.
- Children learn best when they are in a good mood, and you know their moods best.
- You can help your children learn reading skills in ways that are easiest for them.
- Children learn best by doing things – and they love doing things with you.
According to research, there are five activities that parents and caregivers can use to help young children get ready to read.
- Talking - Talking with children helps them learn oral language, one of the most critical early literacy skills. The experience of self-expression also stimulates brain development, which underlies all learning.
- Singing - Singing and rhyme increase children’s awareness of and sensitivity to the sounds in words. This helps prepare children to sound out words when they read.
- Reading - Reading together remains the single most effective way to help children become proficient readers.
- Writing - Writing and reading go together. Writing helps children learn that letters and words stand for sounds and that print has meaning.
- Playing - Play is one of the primary ways young children learn about the world. What they learn through play helps children understand what they read.
The five activities above help develop six pre-reading skills.
- Narrative Skills - Developing Comprehension Skills: Being able to describe things and events and tell stories.
- Print Motivation - Learning about Print: Being interested in and enjoying books.
- Vocabulary - Building Language Skills: Knowing the names of things.
- Phonological Awareness Learning about Sounds in Words: Being able to hear and play with the individual sounds in words.
- Letter Knowledge - Learning about Letters: Knowing letters are different from each other, knowing their names and sounds, and recognizing letters everywhere.
- Print Awareness - Learning about Print: Noticing print, knowing how to handle a book, and knowing how to follow the words on a page.
What is “School Readiness”?
The Maryland State Department of Education defines “school readiness” as child’s ability to successfully carry out kindergarten work which depends so heavily on a child’s birth-to-five learning experiences. The years from birth to age five are the most crucial period of learning in a child’s life. This is the “window” in which a child’s greatest brain development takes place. In fact, nearly 90% of a child’s brain development – in response to the stimulation the child receives – happens by age 5. Early experiences lay the groundwork for a child’s lifelong learning and behavior. Children's early learning affects their school success well beyond kindergarten. A child's readiness to start kindergarten is the most important educational milestone in his or her life.
What skills do children need in order to succeed in school?
Ideally, it is important that children be:
- Socially adjusted, emotionally secure, and physically strong and coordinated.
- Able to communicate with adults and other children including showing an awareness of the print and letter-sound relationship, understanding stories, and demonstrating a love for books.
- Able to recognize and understand basic mathematical concepts including the ability to identify patterns and shapes and how to place items in a certain order.
- Aware of their environment, animal and plant life, as well as the roles of people in their families and communities.
- Comfortable with their creativity and appreciate expressing themselves through the arts.
These skills and behaviors and knowledge prepare children to become successful learners.