Children learn literacy skills gradually. Children need to learn early literacy skills (e.g., print knowledge and phonological awareness skills) to be able to read and write. Children’s speech and language skills are foundations for reading, spelling and writing.
Children typically begin by engaging in shared book reading, songs, and rhymes. Children then learn letter-sound relationships, how to read and write the letters of the alphabet and simple common words. Children become more accurate and fluent readers and writers with lots of practise.
You can help children learn early literacy skills in several ways.
Reading books aloud with children in an interactive way. This helps develop children’s speech, language and early literacy skills, and helps prepare them for reading and going to school.
- Talk about the pictures in the book.
- Point to the words and move your finger along the sentences as you read them aloud.
- Make comments about pictures and words on the page (e.g., this word says go!).
- Ask the child questions about the pictures and words (e.g., What do you think this picture is of? What do you think this word says?).
- Talk about where the cover of the book is, and practise turning the pages.
- Use intonation to create interest (e.g., by saying things in fun ways and using different voices).
- Have fun and praise children for having a go and sharing the book with you.
Talk about words and their sounds.
Talk about words and pictures that start with the same sound, such as in alphabet books (e.g., pictures of door, dog, daddy all start with ‘d’). You can pick out words that start with the same sound as the child’s name.
- Talk about words that rhyme (cat and hat both end in -at, they rhyme).
Read with children every day. Books help children to learn the connections between words and objects/pictures. This helps them learn the meanings of new words and use those new words in their own talking.
Access to books is beneficial for children’s overall language development. Have a selection of books available for children to choose from. Younger children may like pop-up books or lift-the-flap books. Your local library has lots of books to choose from.
Talk about letters, words and logos you see. Point out names of places, logos, and symbols on signs for children at their favourite places to visit. Words and letters are all around us.
Sing songs and rhymes with children. Many rhymes and songs involve actions which children enjoy.
Click on the links below to download handouts containing practical activities/ideas you can do with children to help their literacy development.
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Click on the links below for more information about supporting children’s literacy development:
Check with your local library for story time or other children’s groups that may be held at the library.