Early Literacy Skills
Learning to read starts at birth. I’m not talking about flashcards and high frequency words! I’m talking about all the early literacy skills your little one needs to develop before beginning the formal work of learning to read. The first two early literacy skills, print motivation and print awareness, are great for any age from babies on up. As babies grow up they are ready for more challenges and experiences which broaden their understanding and prepare them for what’s yet to come. Each stage of development has a past, present and future.
- Past: The current stage is the end goal of a previous stage. Holding a fork is the end goal of developing a pincer grip.
- Current: Each stage is a skill itself that needs to be mastered. Using a fork to eat food.
- Future: Each stage is a predecessor for a stage yet to come. Holding a fork is a precursor to holding a pencil and writing.
While all 6 early literacy skills need to be developed before your little one learns to read, your little one will be ready for the different skills at different points during the first five years. With babies and toddlers, our focus should be on exposure to print and creating feel-good memories around reading. As toddlers develop language, it’s a great time to focus on phonological awareness helping them hear the sounds that make up words. As toddlers become preschoolers, they are ready to develop more challenging early literacy skills by developing their vocabulary, narrative skills and letter knowledge.
Check Out All 6 Early Literacy Skills
Emergent Literacy #1: Print Motivation
Emergent Literacy #2: Print Awareness
Emergent Literacy #3: Letter Knowledge
Emergent Literacy #4: Vocabulary
Emergent Literacy #5: Phonological Awareness
Emergent Literacy #6: Narrative Skills
Now on to…
Pre-Readng Skill #3
Letter Knowledge, of all the early literacy skills, is the one that most looks like reading. When your little one develops letter knowledge, they are recognizing that letters are different from each other. Letters are just shapes to non-readers, but very complex shapes. So as kids get older, they are able to see the differences in the shapes of the letters and start to identify them by their name. Letter knowledge is just that, knowing every letter has a name and a specific sound (or set of sounds) that goes with it. Here are some ideas for introducing letters to your little ones.
- Highlight a letter each day or each week.
- Letters are just complex shapes! Help little ones match the same letter on a page in a book, or a sign. Then look for it everywhere you go.
- Begin with the letters in your little ones’ names. Use the starting letter first.
- Draw pictures out of the letter that start with the letter (I draw the letter S which is the first letter in Sammi’s name and turn it into a snake.)
- Say the letter and then the sound and an object around the house that starts with that letter/sound. “T, tuh, toilet”
- Find Alphabet books at the library. Ask a librarian to help you find them. At our library they are all grouped together so it’s easy to choose ones that will work for us and our current interests.
Some Alphabet Books suggested by our librarians: