Parents can help by being available to talk and listen to their children and to give them their attention. Long before children start to read and write, parents can give them a strong foundation of skills that will help them later to develop literacy easier.
Five literacy practices have been identified that support early literacy.
1. Talking - Talking with children helps them learn oral language, one of the most critical early literacy skills. The experience of self-expression also stimulates brain development, which underlies all learning.
2. Singing - Singing, which also includes rhyming, increases children’s awareness of and sensitivity to the sounds in words. This helps prepare children to decode print (written language).
3. Reading - No matter what your child’s age, reading together with your children is the single most important way to help them get ready to read.
Reading together and talking about what you read:
- increases children’s vocabulary and background knowledge,
- helps children learn how books work and how written language looks,
- gives them an understanding of how stories are organized – that they have a beginning, middle & end
- encourages imaginative thinking.
4. Writing - Writing and reading go together. Writing helps children learn that letters and words stand for sounds and that print has meaning. Before a child is ready to hold a pencil and write, the muscles in their hands need to be strong enough. Practicing and developing fine motor skills will help develop these muscles and the hand eye coordination needed.
5. Playing - Play is one of the primary ways young children learn language and literacy skills and learn about the world. Play also helps children think symbolically: a ruler becomes a magic wand, today becomes a time when dinosaurs were alive, a playmate becomes an astronaut exploring space. Through play children realize that one thing can stand for another. This also helps children understand that written words stand for real objects and experiences.