To promote young children’s delight in talking, listening, reading, and writing, adults need to provide a variety of interesting language experiences. Children who have reading difficulties in the primary grades often had limited early literacy learning experiences.
Children with reading difficulties have:
• less letter knowledge;
• less sensitivity to the notion that the sounds of speech are distinct from their meaning;
• less familiarity with the basic purpose and mechanisms of reading; and
• poorer general language ability.
Children who are skilled readers:
• understand the alphabet and letters;
• use background knowledge and strategies to obtain meaning from print; and
• can easily identify words and read fluently.
Activities that prepare young children for learning to read emphasize counting, number concepts, letter names, shapes, and sounds, phonological and phonemic awareness, models of adult interest in literacy, and independent and cooperative literacy activities.
Key Concepts in Children’s Early Literacy
An appreciation of the sounds and meanings of spoken words. For example, a phonologically aware child can perceive and produce rhyming words, divide words into sounds and/or syllables and put them back together again (e.g., ladybug, butterfly), and recognize that groups of words have the same sound at the start (fish, frog, fruit) or the same sound at the end (dice, mice, ice).
An advanced form of phonological awareness. The awareness that printed symbols, such as letters, systematically represent the component sounds of the language. Children who demonstrate phonemic awareness recognize the sound—symbol relationship. Phonemic awareness allows children to “sound out” words.
To Promote Early Literacy
Be a model of literate behavior for your children: write notes, keep a calendar and daily planner, post lists of food and household needs and children’s responsibilities, introduce new vocabulary words during routine conversation and bookreading, and subscribe to a local newspaper and magazines the entire family will enjoy.
Sing songs, make up silly rhymes, read books, and play with words and sounds every day. Discuss printed text, words, and sounds as “objects” that can be thought about, manipulated, altered, and explored. Help children build and use their ever-growing vocabulary.
Provide children with the tools of literate behavior (pens, pencils, markers, paper, envelopes, a stapler, paperclips, stamps, a dictionary, an atlas, telephone books, magazines, catalogues, newspapers, junk mail) and engage in daily literacy activities with your children (write thank you notes, mail birthday cards, look up phone numbers, find exotic destinations in an atlas, write lists, read books, visit the library).
Source: Sara Gable, Ph.D., Human Development and Family Studies, College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia