Learning your ABC's
I am sure that we can all sing the ABC's by the time that we are 5. We have instilled this as a "benchmark" in our culture for preschoolers. We begin teaching our children literacy when we first begin speaking with them, labeling items they are grasping for, and allowing them to pick up all of the tiny toys they just dumped out. Literacy education starts at birth. Here are a few resources to explain the importance of early literacy as well as a few helpful ideas to enrich your literacy education at home.
What is Early Literacy?
Early Literacy has many different components that all add up together to develop the ability to read, write, comprehend, and apply.
Examples of early literacy skills
Knowing the names of things
Being interested in and enjoying books
noticing letters and words, knowing how to handle a book, knowing how to follow words on a page
Being able to describe things and events and tell a story
Knowing that letters have names and sound different from each other
hearing and playing with smaller sounds in words like cat, bat, hat
Why is Early Literacy Important?
Children introduced to reading early on tend to read earlier and excel in school compared to children who are not exposed to language and books at a young age (American Academy of Pediatrics).
Reading, rhyming, singing, and talking — beginning from birth — profoundly influence literacy and language development, the foundations for all other learning (www.healthychildren.org).
More than 1 in 3 American children start Kindergarten without the skills they need to learn to read (American Academy of Pediatrics).
Developing early literacy skills makes it easier for children to learn to read. Children who enter school with these skills have an advantage that carries with them throughout their school years. However, more than 1 in 3 American children enter Kindergarten without the skills they need to learn to read (American Academy of Pediatrics). Reading is an essential skill for success in school and later in life.
Early Literacy Activities
There are so many activities out there that can help your child to gain early literacy skills, and most of them you can complete at home with hardly a cost at all. Here are some fun ideas to get you started.
Simple Letter Games are fun and easy. Place letter cards (index cards) or magnet letters in a bag. Have your child pull one out and say the name (B is B and says buh). To take this game up a level have your child find something in the house that starts with that letter.
Using sticky notes with one letter written on each note, hide the letters around the house. Give your child a sheet with the ABC's on it. Each time they find a letter have them write it next to the printed letter. Can they find all letters of the alphabet?
Pull out your shaving cream and spray a small amount on the table. Using your fingers practice writing letters while saying their sound. Get messy with your child!
Pick out a letter of the day with your child. For the whole day help your child to point out objects that start with that letter as well as when they see the written letter.
Print out a ton of environmental print (common store signs, movie titles, food wrappers) and work with your child to read the print (symbol). Understanding that symbols have meaning is one of the first key's to reading.
Create an Alphabet Book with your child. Write each letter LARGE on a page, or print a coloring page for each letter. Then look through magazines and newspapers with your child to find the letter and fill the page. (Recommend 1 letter per sitting).
Write large letters on a large piece of paper. Drive cars through paint or mud and then practice driving on the letter road. Don't forget to say the letters/sound while your driving to incorporate more senses.
Ask your child to retell a story you just read, or draw a picture of what happened. After they draw the picture, ask them to explain to you their picture and write down what they say as a caption. When finished read the caption to them to connect that written words have meanings, and that their words are IMPORTANT!
Other tips to strengthen your child's literacy
As with any time that you are engaging with your child, it is important to remember that they are constantly learning from you. A child's brain develops extensively during the first 5 years of life. It is so important that we ensure that all experiences remain positive. We are helping them to make their "thinking road map". Ensure that whenever you are engaging with your child you are providing positive and supportive connection. Also remember that brain connections form through all 5 senses - sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. Try to incorporate all of these senses in your at home instruction. Have fun together!