The Six Early Literacy Skills

There can be no doubt that teaching children to read is the keystone in the building of knowledge.  Reading is the fundamental skill that everyone needs for all other learning.

Research has identified six early literacy skills that should be addressed in order for children to develop literacy.

1.  Print Motivationhaving an interest in and an enjoyment of books. As librarians and caregivers we help develop this skill by:

– focusing on the child or children without distractions

– allowing the child to participate in the reading or telling

– keeping the interaction around the book or books pleasant and          enjoyable.

2.  Phonological Awarenessthe ability to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words: rhyming, syllables, and initial sounds.  Children who recognize the parts, the rhymes and syllables are quicker to learn to read.

We reinforce these patterns through nursery rhymes and other poetry, sounding out words carefully, and using a felt board to build words.

3.  Vocabularyknowing the names of things.

Infants learn vocabulary quickly and research has shown that the more parents talk to their babies the faster they learn.

It is not just the amount of speech, however, it is also the pattern of the speech, and by speaking “parentese” (the sing-song slightly higher pitched voice we use for babies), has been shown to hold a baby’s attention longer than normal adult speech.

The larger the reading and speaking vocabulary, the more advantage a child has in reading and the process of relating the spoken word to the printed word is quicker and more accurate when the word is already in the child’s speaking vocabulary.

4.  Narrative Skills – the ability to describe things and events and to tell stories.

As we discussed in the Vocabulary section, there is a tremendously strong relationship between spoken language and written language.    Simply put, talking, having conversations, and telling stories, even asking for help in finishing the story, helps build narrative skills.

Storytelling is an excellent way to build Narrative Skills.  Doing the same story every week with slightly different characters is a fun way to improve narrative skills, if you do it enough, you can even tell it by closing your lips and going through the same motions (Three Little Pigs or the Three Bears for example), but with your lips zipped.  I guarantee if you have done it for a few weeks, the kids will know what the story is and laugh with you all the way through!

5.  Print Awarenessnoticing print in the  world around us, knowing how to handle a book, and understanding how to follow the words on a page.

Print Awareness is a general understanding of how print is used:

– Print has meaning

– People read the text, not just look at the pictures

-How a book works – Left to right, front to back, turn the page.

-Words are separated by spaces, so that each group of letters is a word

-Print is all around us

6.  Letter Knowledgeknowing that letters are different from each other even if the same letter looks different, and each has a name and sound or sounds of it’s own.

Involve children with songs, felt boards, speaking (YELLING!) ABC’s, and for fun, show them the actual spelling of a letter (eff=F, ess=S, etc.)

Inform the caregivers!

You are already using these when you read to children, but they are skills to communicate to parents and caregivers at some point, although this is sometimes hard to do without breaking the flow of the event.  If you can do it naturally, incorporate it, if you can’t at least have handouts from the library to pass out in your “Welcome to Storytime bag.”

The six early literacy skills are adapted from  Literature and the Child, by Galda and Cullinan, Wadsworth Press, 2010.  ISBN: 978-0534246839

Available online.  The book is a great resource, and I have the older edition.  Older editions are much less expensive!  A new edition costs nearly $100, while the older cost under $10.00.

Published on December 5, 2010 at 5:42 am  Leave a Comment  

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