Early Childhood Literacy

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Frequently Asked Questions about Early Literacy

What is early literacy?

Early literacy is not reading and writing.  Early literacy is what children know about reading and writing before they can actually read and write.  Early literacy includes vocabulary, print motivation, print awareness, narrative skills, phonological awareness, and letter knowledge.

Why is early literacy important?

Young children must develop early literacy skills in order to be successful with formal reading and writing in school.  46% of children in the United States enter kindergarten unprepared.  Research shows that children who start behind typically stay behind.  Providing young children with opportunities to develop early literacy skills is important to their success in school, their success learning to read, and their success in life. 

What is vocabulary and why is it important?

Vocabulary is knowing the names of things. Children with large vocabularies usually find it easier to read because they are familiar with many words and concepts.  Research shows that a child’s vocabulary at three years old is a predictor of their reading ability in third grade.

What is print motivation and why is it important?

Print motivation is a child's interest in and enjoyment of books. Print motivation gives children the drive and interest in reading and writing that is important to their success.  Children with strong print motivation will work harder learning to read and write because literacy is their personal goal.

What is print awareness and why is it important?

Print awareness is the very basic skills needed before a child can begin learning to read. Print awareness includes noticing print everywhere, knowing how to handle a book, and knowing how to follow words on a page.  Children must have some print awareness before they can learn to read or write.

What is narrative skill and why is it important?

Narrative skill is the ability to describe things, explain events, and tell stories.  The ability to talk about and explain what happens in a story helps a child understand the meaning of what was read. Developing strong narrative skills leads to high levels of reading comprehension once children learn to read.

What is phonological awareness and why is it important?

Phonological awareness is the ability to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words.

Being able to hear the sounds that make up words helps children sound out words when they begin to read. Most children who have difficulty reading have trouble with phonological awareness. It’s important to help young children develop this skill to make sure they are prepared to read when they begin school.

What is letter knowledge and why is it important?

Letter knowledge is knowing that letters are different from each other and that letters have different names and sounds. Before children can begin to read words, they must understand that words are made up of letters and that each letter has its own sound.

How can I learn more about early literacy and help my child develop early literacy skills?

Early Literacy Everyday provides free early literacy programs for parents. Our programs help parents learn simple games, activities, and stories that will help their infants, toddlers, and preschoolers develop the early literacy skills important to their success. 

Mailing Address:  P.O. Box 253 Mishawaka, IN 46546
Location:   2425 Mishawaka Ave., South Bend IN 46615
Phone:  574.335.9781