Early Literacy

What is Early Literacy?

Early Literacy is what children know about reading and writing before they actually learn to read and write. It is not teaching reading, drilling or using flashcards. Instead it is laying the foundation, so that your child has the necessary skills when he or she is developmentally ready to read.

Why is Early Literacy Important?

Babies are born ready to learn. Recent research shows that babies are born with billions of brain cells called neurons. The more stimulation a baby receives through its senses, the more pathways develop between the brain cells.

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 Can Parents and Caregivers Do?

Take every chance you have to read with your children, tell and talk about stories, say nursery rhymes and sing songs. The most important thing you can do to foster early literacy is to provide an atmosphere that’s fun, verbal and stimulating. When you read, talk and play with your child, you’re stimulating the growth of your child’s brain and building the connections that will become the building blocks for reading.


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Early Literacy Practices

  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Reading together remains the single most effective way to help children become proficient readers.
  • Writing and reading go together. Writing helps children learn that letters and words stand for sounds and that print has meaning.
  • Playing is one of the primary ways young children learn about the world. General knowledge is an important literacy skill that helps children understand books and stories once they begin to read.