Family Literacy Day! Supporting Literacy in Young Children

More and more we are learning about the importance of reading to our children; it helps expand vocabulary, discover new concepts and develop imagination. But did you know, how we read with children can support their literacy skills?

Prior to a child being able to read and write, they need to develop emergent literacy skills this includes:

• Vocabulary – How many words a child understands is one of the most important factors in learning to read. The more words a child knows, the easier it is for them to learn new words and to gain meaning from the stories they read.

• Story comprehension – Listening to and experiencing a story allows children to better understand future stories and write stories of their own.

• Print knowledge – Exploring print, they’ll need to know that print is made up of letters of the alphabet, that letters combine to make words and that print is read from left to right.

• Sound awareness – to understand that words can be broken down into syllables and smaller sounds, and that letters correspond to certain sounds. We often use circle visuals to show syllables or tap/clap to the syllables when breaking down a new word.

So how can reading help with all of these skills? The purpose is to read WITH your child not AT your child to read with your child.

Here are some tips to make sharing a book with your young child 

  • Let your child choose the book
  • Try to be face-to-face with your child when you look at the book together. This allows the child to see your facial expressions, gestures and mouth movements- it also allows you to see theirs.
  • Let your child hold and explore the book.
  • Read the book over and over again! The repetition will help with memory recall, remembering new words and sequencing.
  • Think of the book as a conversation starter- ask questions and connect the book to real life experiences
  • Point to pictures, ask your child to identify what is in the picture, then describe what you see. Ask older children what is happening in the picture.
  • Pause during the reading to ask questions and make comments. This will give your child the opportunity to answer questions and share their own thoughts and feelings on what’s happening in the story. After reading a page, making a comment, or asking a question – count to 5 in your head and see if in that time your child speaks or points or gives any verbal or non verbal cues to help lead the conversation
  • Make it an experience! Reading a book is all about the experience, not finishing the story. Be animated, use gestures, add props and follow your child’s lead.

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