As you sit with your baby on your lap and read simple board books, did you know you are actually forming the building blocks for the reading skills they will have later in life?
Becoming a good reader starts early on. Children usually understand several words before they can actually speak. Likewise, children start to develop literacy skills well before they are able to read. The greatest amount of brain growth occurs from birth to age 5. Meaning it’s so very important to start exposing your child to literacy as early as possible so that he or she can be a good reader later on!
What are “Early Literacy Skills”?
Early Literacy skills are a variety of skills that a child develops in order to become a successful reader. Here are a few examples:
Print Motivation: This is how interested a child is in books. The more a child enjoys reading, the more likely he or she is to pick up a book and read throughout his or her lifetime!
Print Awareness: A child’s ability to recognize or notice letters and words. With print awareness, a child understands that letters make words, letters have names, and print is all around us!
Vocabulary: The more words a child knows, the easier it is for him or her to recognize and read them later on. If your child knows what more words mean, it'll be easier for them to understand sentences and stories once they start reading.
Sound Awareness: Also known as Phonological Awareness. This is a child's ability to break down words into sounds, and change those around to make new words. Having good sound awareness means the child understands that each letter has a sound. This is a high predictor of later reading and spelling skills!
Story Comprehension: This means a child remembers and understands the information from a story.
Story telling: This is a child's ability to remember, describe, and tell a story he or she has read. That shows the child understood it!
Incorporating Early Literacy Skills into Daily Life
Literacy is ALL around us, ALL the time! Working on the skills above with your child is easy when you incorporate it into your daily life. Get started with activities like these:
- Have books readily available and easily accessible to your child. Scatter a few board books in your baby's play area or put one on their tray at mealtime.
- Choose books that relate to your child's interests (think, Little Blue Truck for your vehicle lover).
- Point to the words sometimes as you read them.
- Describe literacy terms like "word", "letter", "sound" and "book" and point them out to your child as you see them in your environment. At snack time, that can be something as easy as pointing out the name of the snack (such as "Crackers" or "Raisins") on the label of a bag.
- At bathtime, make a shaving cream or foam soap wall for your child. Draw different letters and name them and what sound they make!
- Give your child some letter tiles or magnetic letters to add to playtime with Play Dough or Slime.
- Point out the letters of your child's name on different items like a lunchbox or chair. Write them as your child colors.
- Play sound games with your child while driving in the car. Name a word and ask your child to name another that rhymes with it.