Literacy for your child is absolutely essential for their success in education and beyond! Unlocking their literacy skills begins with you. As a parent, you have the power to encourage and nurture literacy at home every step of the way and chances are, you’ve already gotten started!
Questions that will be answered in this post:
- What does literacy mean?
- Why is literacy for children important?
- What does early emergent literacy mean for my child?
- How can I intentionally teach literacy to my child?
- What should I look for in my child’s literacy development?
- What are the 5 components of literacy for my child?
- What are the types of literacy?
What is Literacy and Why is it Important?
Most websites will tell you that literacy is merely the ability to read and write.
Yes, learning to read and write lies at the core of literacy, however, we must think beyond this traditional definition. Literacy is so much more. Think of all the ways you use reading and writing to engage in the world around you. Literacy encourages us to view the world in unique ways and allows us to live out our best life. It grants us the ability to grow up mentally healthy and strong!
When your child unlocks the magic of literacy they obtain the ability to make meaningful observations and build connections within the world around them. Literacy contains special powers that lie at the foundation of leadership, problem-solving, self-expression, and creativity. Literacy can be acquired in many ways such as language and personal experience; storytelling and asking questions; engaging in cultural events or simply by being a spectator of life.
Early Emergent Literacy for Young Children
Early emergent literacy begins at birth. And good news! Thanks to you, your child has most likely begun taking their first essential steps toward literacy mastery. Here are some ways you can ensure your young child is reaching their literacy potential at home.
- Singing Nursery Rhymes
- Rhyming: Songs with word-play such as and games like “I Spy”
- Role-Playing or Engaging in Theatrical Activities. For example: ‘Playing Barbies’ or ‘house’, sock puppets, etc.)
- Engaging in conversations & questions: Answer your child’s questions with complete sentences. You can also replace common words with synonyms or inject adjectives into your observational conversations.
- Story Time: Storybooks are a great way to enhance vocabulary for your child.
- Writing: ‘Pretend writing’ or intentional scribbling/shape drawing, or tracing are great pre-writing activities for your child.
Be Intentional with Teaching Early Emergent Literacy
You can make the most out of your children’s literacy development by being intentional during these types of activities. There is always room to include higher vocabulary to conversations and questions. Your child learns language and early literacy skills through listening and engaging in activities with you. And let me tell you, you mustn’t underestimate your child’s ability to pick up on the nuances of words used by you especially in informal, conversational settings!
When reading books with your child there are a number of ways you can intentionally build on early literacy skills for your child.
- Make observations about the book title and what you think the book might be about.
- Comment on what you see in the illustrations as you read aloud.
- Follow along with your finger. Point to words as you read them aloud.
- Turn on the theatrics and read with great expression! Have fun with dialogue.
- Read and enjoy the same books over and over again!
Piggie and Gerald books are my favorite early literacy books to read with young children. These two are always in high demand! ❤
Signs That Indicate Your Child is Ready to Take Their First Steps into Reading
Emergent literacy skills encompasses all of the skills that are developed throughout your child’s first years before attending formal schooling. Here are a few signs your child may be ready to begin taking her first steps toward learning how to read:
- They are more intentional with their writing; scribbles are directed into shapes, figures, and letters. Your child may even be writing their name or at least making a good attempt at it.
- There is a higher level of involvement in story time. Your child begins looking at words as you read together.
- They hold books properly and ‘pretend read’.
- They are capable of telling stories from the beginning, stating a middle and an end. This can happen in conversation or while discussing story books.
- They show interest in letters and letter names. They are beginning to recognize them, especially the letter that begins their own name.
I believe it is important to approach teaching your child to read if and only if they are ready to learn. The reason being is you don’t want to introduce reading as work or as a chore. Learning how to read during your child’s early years should be nurtured with love and patience. Let this list be a guideline for you rather than a concrete checklist. With that said, let’s move on to emergent literacy.
Literacy for Children Who are Ready to Learn Reading
This is the exciting part about your child’s journey toward literacy! It is absolutely magical when you realize your child is ready to learn how to read. Parents may be quick to assume that teaching reading begins with the letter ‘A’. However, there are a number of ways to maximize your teaching potential when it comes to you and your child. First, let’s look at some of the key features of emergent literacy to give you a better idea of the foundation you want to continue building on.
The 5 Components of Literacy for Children
The following list contains the 5 components of reading for children. They are commonly referred to by teachers and education administrators as the most critical components to reading. Great news! Think of these as a continuation of sorts from what you’ve been working on with your child up until this point in their reading journey. I will briefly define each of these components for you.
Phonemic Awareness: The ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds, called phonemes, in words. Building phonemic awareness skills often begins before formal reading instruction and sits at the foundation of learning how to read. Check out the post on phonemic awareness, here!
- Phonics: The ability to connect phonemes with their letter or letter group counterparts. Phonics is a crucial skill for your child to obtain in order to read.
- Vocabulary: The ability to understand, define and use new words found in reading and in conversation. Your child’s vocabulary bank is ever growing! Use richer vocabulary during conversation and read books with words that are not commonly used in conversation to enhance your child’s vocabulary.
- Fluency: The ability to read accurately, consistently and with proper expression. This skill will be a work in progress for your early reader as they become more acquainted with punctuation and grammar as well as get better at reading in general.
- Comprehension: The ability to understand and analyze what is being read or listened to. Reading with your child always grants you the opportunity to build comprehension skills. Have a conversation about what you’ve just read with your child and ask questions before, during, and after reading a book.
Download this FREE reading tips guide! It offers guidance and questions you can ask your child while you both are reading together.
The Types of Literacy for Children in Education
- Digital Literacy: The ability to use digital environments to accomplish goals, communicate ideas, and execute tasks. For more, check out https://learning.mozilla.org/en-US/web-literacy/
- Media Literacy: The ability to access, synthesize, and critically analyze information found in different types of media. Media literacy includes having the ability to respond to information and use tools to create your own valuable messages for the world.
- Cultural Literacy: Having the knowledge of one’s own culture and how to participate fluently within it.
- Multi-Cultural Literacy: Having knowledge of other cultures and having the ability to gain the perspectives of others.
- Information Literacy: The ability to read and write information. Moreover, it’s the ability to locate information, critically analyze it, determine its validity, and effectively utilize it. Information literacy is important for fostering creativity, innovation, problem-solving, and decision-making skills.
Being Multi-Literate is Important in Education
It is crucial for everyone in education to become multi-literate… especially our children. As we start to see different forms of literacy radically emerge through technology, creativity, and innovation, we must understand how to integrate it into the education of our children.
See, literacy is an action. To me, literacy is a living, breathing organism! It consists of an ongoing series of actions and transactions between people and it all starts here, with learning how to read and write!
Think Beyond Literacy in the Educational Sense
With that, I encourage you to look at literacy in education a little differently…
- To think beyond literacy as just a subject that’s taught in school.
- To think beyond literacy as something you either win or struggle at; no child should feel the pain of believing they are not good enough.
- To think beyond standardized testing and prescribed literacy programs that stem from it; programs that hinder innovation, creativity, and human connection in teaching and education efforts.
- To think beyond textbooks and worksheets; literacy is in the eye of the beholder. To encourage the love of literacy and learning to build a strong sense of self and add value to each other.
We must empower our children to make a better world for themselves through literacy …and it starts here!