Learning to read and write doesn’t start in kindergarten or first grade. Developing language and literacy skills begins at birth and continues throughout every day. Loving interactions, sharing books, telling stories, singing songs, and talking to one another are all a part of the process. Below are a few things that all parents should know about early language and literacy.
– What We Know About Early Language and Literacy Development
Early language and literacy (reading and writing) development begins in the first three years of life and is closely linked to a child’s earliest experiences with books and stories. The interactions that young children have with materials such as books, paper, and crayons and with the adults in their lives are the building blocks for language, reading and writing development. This relatively new understanding of early literacy development complements the current research supporting the critical role of early experiences in shaping a child’s brain development
– What you must know : Early Literacy Does Not Mean Early Reading
Our current understanding of early language and literacy development has provided new ways of helping children learn to talk, read, and write. But it does not advocate “the teaching of reading” to very young children. Formal instruction which pushes infants and toddlers to achieve adult models of literacy (ex: actual reading and writing of words) is ‘NOT’ developmentally appropriate. Early literacy theory emphasizes a more natural unfolding of skills through the enjoyment of books, the importance of positive interactions between young children and adults, and the critical role of literacy-rich experiences.
– Infants to Toddlers
Early literacy recognizes that language, reading, and writing evolve from a number of earlier skills. Early literacy skills are essential to literacy development and should be the focus of early language and literacy programs. By focusing on the importance of the first years of life, we give new meaning to the interactions young children have with books and stories. Looking at early literacy development as a dynamic developmental process, we can see the connection and meaning between an infant mouthing a book, the book handling behavior of a two year old, and the page turning of a five year old. We can see that the first three years of exploring and playing with books, singing nursery rhymes, listening to stories, recognizing words, and scribbling are truly the building blocks for language and literacy development.
– What Young Children Like in Books
Infants 0-6 months
- Books with simple, large pictures or designs with bright colors, stiff cardboard, “chunky” books, or fold out books that can be propped up, cloth and soft vinyl books with simple pictures of people or familiar objects that can go in the bath or get washed.
- Infants 6-12 months
Board books with photos of other babies, brightly colored “chunky” board books to touch and taste, books with photos of familiar objects like balls and bottles, books with sturdy pages that can be propped up or spread out in the crib or on a blanket, plastic/vinyl books for bath time. Washable cloth books to cuddle and mouth.
– Young Toddlers 12-24 months
Sturdy board books that they can carry, books with photos of children doing familiar things like sleeping or playing, goodnight books for bed time, books about saying hello and good-bye, books with only a few words on each page, books with simple rhymes or predictable text, animal books of all sizes and shapes.
– Toddlers 2-3 years
Books that tell simple stories, simple rhyming books that they can memorize, bed time books, books about counting, the alphabet, shapes, or sizes, animal books, vehicle books, books about playtime, books with their favorite TV characters etc.