October 15, 2007

Six Early Literacy Skills You Can Teach

When does a child learn to read? Kindergarten or first grade, most people believe. But research shows us something very different. Learning to read and write starts at home, beginning at birth. That’s right! The moment they come into the world we can literally hard-wire their little brains to become readers when they enter school.

This is not just pop wisdom. We have hard science to back up this claim, thanks to research supported by many education organizations, including a partnership between the American Library Association, the Association for Library Service to Children, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

It’s a sad fact that as many as 35 percent of kids today enter school without these skills. If that’s not sobering enough, consider this: there’s a 90 percent probability that a first grader who is behind his/her desired reading level, will remain behind by fourth grade. Among those fourth-graders, 75 percent will continue to have trouble with reading throughout high school. That’s a tremendous handicap to place on a young adult.

Here’s are six proven literacy skills you can teach your child. All are linked to early success with reading:

1) Narrative Skills—Tell stories together, encourage pretend play, and let your child BE a storyteller.
2) Letter Knowledge—Help your child identify the first letter in his/her name and find it in books on street signs and package labels. Knowing the sounds letters make. Recognizing letters everywhere.
3) Print Awareness—Help your child discover how to hold a book and turn the pages. Make books available for PLAY.
4) Vocabulary—Teach your child the specific names of things.
5) Print Motivation—Find books that speak to your child’s earliest interests.
6) Phonological Awareness—Being able to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words.

If you are interested in learning more about how to incorporate these ideas into your home or classroom, come to my free Early Literacy Seminar at 10 a.m., Saturday, November 3, Eagle Valley Clubhouse, 7780 Eagle Valley Pass, Indianapolis, IN 46214. Attend and help the children in your life become great thinkers and interpreters of our world through a love of reading and learning. Walk away with a chance to win $50 in free books for your school or home, plus free giveaways and doorprizes just for attending!

Or visit the American Library Association’s web site for free, downloadable information at: www.ala.org/ala/alsc/ECRR/ECRRHomePage.htm

Source: American Library Association, Every Child Ready to Read brochure.