Developing literacy in children is incredibly important. It lays the foundation for everything later on in life. Early literacy begins from day one when a young baby uses crying, gurgling, gestures, and facial expressions to communicate their needs.
“Literacy” is the umbrella term for a person’s ability to communicate and comprehend language. This means that literacy encompasses speaking, reading, and writing, because these are different forms of expression that all use language.
The Connection Between Oral and Written Language
If you’re a parent and you want to really develop your preschool child’s literacy, you need to understand the connection between oral and written language. Early literacy with regards to reading cannot be achieved without having some form of reference.
In other words, if a child has not become familiar with the basic tenets of language, they will struggle with reading. When a preschool child is beginning to learn reading skills, sounding out the words is one of the key ways they learn. If they have not encountered the words before, it will be more difficult to grasp them on the page.
Because of this, you can develop early literacy most effectively by introducing your child to a broad vocabulary as soon as possible. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you make them read the dictionary or thesaurus instead of a bedside story! It simply means that you should encourage their verbal communication by providing them with stimulating conversation. You should start this from the moment they utter their first word.
Most toddlers can say twenty words by the time they’re eighteen months old. So, if you really want to develop early literacy, you should set definitive goals as a parent. By the age of three, they have the potential to know up to four thousand words.
The reality is that the more words a child knows orally, the faster they will pick up the reading element of literacy.
2 Types of Early Literacy Exercises
There are many simple early literacy exercises you can practice with your preschool child. Some are spontaneous, while others are systematic.
1. Spontaneous Exercises
Examples of spontaneous early literacy exercises include teaching your toddler to read road signs or the information on a cereal box.
So, with a little thought, you can effortlessly incorporate literacy development techniques into a day trip. If you go to the zoo, you can get them to identify the animals and then show them the corresponding word. If you go to the store, you can make a game out of identifying the items you buy. Early literacy exercises don’t have to be complicated or expensive. Everyday life can be a constant literacy exercise when you’re committed to the idea of increasing your toddler’s vocabulary.
2. Systematic Exercises
You should also set aside time to really focus on the task at hand with a more disciplined approach. Reading at bedtime is an excellent way to develop early literacy.
A great tip is to buy two copies of whatever book or story you’re reading. This is because your child gets to have the feeling of reading a book by themselves, while also getting the help they need. When there is only one copy, it is easy for them to become distracted while you’re reading to them in the beginning. When they have their own book, they are more likely to really try to follow along with the words. This process helps them to really get a feel for what the words look like, thereby forming the necessary connections in their mind.
To give your child the best possible headstart, watch this short video and discover how YOU hold the key to their success.