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How to Foster Early Literary Skills

A strong connection exists between oral language, later literacy and overall academic success. Oral language supports literacy, and children with delayed language development in the preschool years show a significantly higher incidence of reading problems than do children without language problems. In fact, oral language skills in pre-school and kindergarten predict reading ability in the early elementary years. We know that the relationship is reciprocal, meaning that attainments in one domain continually influence the attainments in another domain. A broad range of factors contribute to the development of emergent literacy. One critical factor is the child’s exposure and experience with literacy activities and materials.

How can you foster the development of your child’s emerging reading skills? Below is a brief sampling of activities to foster reading skills and promote literacy learning.

  • Read a variety of books: stories that contain frequent pairs of rhyming words, sound patterns; books with repetitive themes or predictable patterns; books with appealing illustrations; and alphabet books.

  • Direct your child’s attention to the printed word rather than focusing solely on the pictures.

  • Ask questions as you read the book to engage the child as an active participant.

  • Talk about new vocabulary introduced in the stories to strengthen newly learned words.

  • Identify and generate words that rhyme or begin with a target word. For example, say the “top” and generate as many words that rhyme with “top” as you can. Or play “I Spy”, focusing on the different sounds of words as clues, (“I spy something that begins with “p”).

  • Model reading conventions such as, the left to right orientation of print, spaces between words, or different types of punctuation.

  • Provide an assortment of attractive writing materials and writing surfaces to engage in writing. Have pens, markers, chalk crayons and writing software available, for use with paper, tag-board, dry-erase boards, etc. Encourage scribbling, drawing, invented spelling.

  • Name letters in highly familiar and frequent words, or make lists of words that begin with the same letter.

  • Point out and read print in environmental contexts, such as traffic signs, restaurant logos, and familiar quotes on cereal boxes.

Provide frequent opportunities for your child to see you engaged in reading and writing, and provide a print-rich environment!

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