Ready for Reading: 4 Strategies to Foster Early Literacy Skills
When you’re a child, everything is filled with a bit of wonder. Things seem new, fresh, exciting — and reading should be no different.
This fundamental skill is the backbone of all learning.
For very young children, reading is just as new and mysterious as a secret language.
Early literacy determines how well a child will understand more complex texts later in school, but it also determines how that child comprehends math problems, scientific theories, and history lessons. Literacy skills are foundational, and teaching these skills correctly is paramount to a child’s educational success.
With the right approach, the way a child learns to read can positively shape his or her education for years to come.
Children encounter written language through printed material long before they can effectively read.
At home, children hear conversation long before they can effectively write.
Even when they’re not formally learning, children are always learning. These little run-ins with early literacy moments greatly impact early childhood education; these moments develop curiosity surrounding language and literacy, and they ink familiarity on a child’s mind.
In a more formal classroom setting, we can incorporate the same types of strategies to familiarize children with early literacy. Here are four research-backed intervention strategies for effective early literacy instruction.
1. Code-focused interventions (such as phonological awareness instruction)
Learning the letters of the alphabet, the sound that each letter makes, and even the shape of each letter (the curve of a “c”, the dot of an “i”, the difference between “m” and “n”) all help to teach children to later read words and sentences.
Concepts such as alphabet knowledge and phonological awareness are both important interventions in early literacy instruction. Children need to learn the names of each letter in order to better understand the letter’s sound, and later, they must learn to segment words into phonemes in order to correctly read and pronounce words.
Introducing these theories early will set up a strong foundation for reading later on.
2. Shared reading interventions
Did you know that simply sharing a book with a child is an early literacy strategy?
That’s right: reading a bedtime story isn’t just a nice way to wind down after a day of play, it’s also an effective tool that promotes literacy development from a very early age.
Parents can practice shared reading by reading age-appropriate stories to their children at home, and teachers can practice shared reading by hosting story times and pointing out words to their students.
3. Parental and home programs
Studies show that key components to early literacy start at home (National Early Literacy Panel, 2008). Simply reading to children before bedtime has a great deal of influence on a child’s early literacy development, but there are lots of ways for parents to foster language and literacy comprehension.
Parents can point out words to children organically as they encounter them throughout the day, and teachers can equip parents with early literacy skills and strategies that correspond with their classroom curriculum.
Research consistently demonstrates that the more children know about language and literacy before they arrive at school, the better equipped they are to succeed in reading. (National Research Council, 2000)
4. Language-enhancement interventions
Studies show that improving a child’s language development is essential when teaching early literacy (National Early Literacy Panel, 2008). With a firm grasp on language and vocabulary, children will have a much easier time learning to read.
To enhance language, we should introduce explicit vocabulary words to children, then follow this instruction with reading activities that allow children to see those same words in use.
Children should also learn new words as they see, taste, touch, smell, and hear them, such as teaching a child “cold” as they touch an ice cube or “music” when they hear their favorite songs.
How can Imagine Learning help teach early literacy skills?
While it’s essential for children to learn early literacy skills from teachers and parents, digital learning solutions offer additional support and instruction to help children become successful readers. This type of blended learning supports the teacher’s lessons through digital resources that further the child’s comprehension.
Engaging programs like Imagine Language & Literacy are incredibly beneficial when teaching early literacy, both in the classroom and in the home. These four proven strategies are incorporated throughout the lessons in Imagine Learning & Literacy, ensuring that children encounter research-backed interventions as they progress through the program.
To enhance a child’s language comprehension, Imagine Language & Literacy introduces more than 1,400 nouns, adjectives, and verbs hand-selected by researchers and from various state tests.
The activities directly teach these vocabulary words and use them in context, which strengthens early literacy skills in fun and imaginative ways.
What are your tips for teaching early literacy skills to your youngest students?