Early childhood literacy is currently at the forefront of the public policy debate. The significance of literacy and language has long been recognized as a way of preparing children to succeed in school and in life. Early literacy among preschoolers is important in enabling early learning experiences that are linked with academic achievement, higher graduation rates, and a successful adult life. This article offers recommendations on research-based early literacy activities with preschoolers that will help them gain literacy skills.
Research conducted by the National Early Literacy Panel indicates that alphabet knowledge, phonological awareness, and print awareness are key early literacy skills that significantly contribute to reading achievement later in life. Some early literacy skills include:
- Alphabet Knowledge: When a child is in preschool, it is important that they are able to recognize and name both upper and lower cases letters, as well as associating the letters with how they sound.
- Phonological Awareness: It is important that preschoolers obtain phonological awareness, which means that they have the ability to manipulate the sounds of letters that make up language. Phonological awareness includes recognizing rhyming words, recognizing beginning sounds in words, listening to syllables that are within words, and matching sounds to letters.
- Print Awareness: By the time children graduate from preschool, they should have an understanding of the features of print and books. They should be able to recognize the various parts of a book, learn titles and authors, and understand the flow of printed words running left to right from top to bottom.
Classroom strategies to promote literacy should be designed with all of the foundational literacy skills in mind. It is important to recognize that literacy skills can transcend languages. If an English Language Learner (ELL) has developed literacy skills in their first language, it will be much easier for them to learn the same literacy skills in English.
Research-based early literacy activities with preschoolers include:
- “Pretend” reading and writing
- Interactive storybook reading
- Playing games or participating in activities that help children to identify letters of the alphabet
- Partake in other interactive experiences with print and language via nursery rhymes, songs, poems, and stories
- Playing word games
Educators and parents should emphasize instruction that helps children understand the relationship that exists between print and language. The Latino Family Literacy Project offers webinars and workshops for educators who work with parents, so that they can acquire skills needed to facilitate early literacy skills. A great way to foster literacy skills is through reading. Lectura Books offers bilingual books, which promote bilingualism and early literacy skills. Organizations as such help equip students with the skills and tools they need in order to succeed in school and in life.