Around 4 years of age, children begin to learn early literacy skills. Early literacy skills are the most important building block for future educational success. Confidence in reading will allow your child to thrive and learn. It is important to know the development of literacy skills and when to be concerned. Early intervention is key when delays are noted. Here, we will teach you all about literacy development, signs of difficulty and how to encourage literacy development at home.
Early Literacy Skills:
1. Learning new vocabulary words
One of the most important early literacy skills is expanding a child’s vocabulary. Children will find it easier to read and write when they have heard many of the words before. Parents can teach new vocabulary words by reading books daily and varying the types of books. Other ways parents can expose their child to new vocabulary words is by talking about new experiences, asking questions, and adding new words into the daily vocabulary.
2. An Interest in Books
Cultivate an interest in books by starting to read to your child daily at an early age. Research shows that as early as 6-12 months of age, your baby begins to understand that picture represent objects and may show increased interest in certain books. Keeping a variety of appropriate books in your home is a great way to ensure books become a part of daily life. Is your child showing interest in certain shows or characters? Choose books with this theme to elevate their interest in reading even more!
3. Learning the ABCs
One of the first steps to familiarizing a child with letters is learning to sing their ABCs. When do kids start learning to sing the ABCs? Children begin to sing the alphabet song around 2 years of age and are able to sing the entire sound around 4 years of age. Around this time, children are also learning to recognize letters in print. Parents can begin working on letter recognition by asking the child to identify letters in their own name. Letter recognition is a stepping stone to sound-letter associations.
4. Sound-Letter Associations
By 5 years of age, your child should begin to show an understanding of sound-letter associations such as “d” is for “dog.” Getting the opportunity to attend to a variety of print is helpful here. Draw your child’s attention to print in books, tablet games, cereal boxes, etc. Choose a letter, such as “B,” and model the sound while pointing to the letter. Then, move to words, “B is for ball.” It is helpful to use some of your child’s preferred items to draw interest.
Signs of Literacy Struggles
Parents and teachers often notice signs a child struggles with reading in the first grade when a child is beginning to learn to read. Children with repeated ear infections or speech delays often have difficulties learning to read. The following signs may occasionally represent a larger issue such as Dyslexia, Auditory Processing Disorder, or learning delays. Some early signs to look for include:
- Challenges in manipulating sounds in words such as rhyming or recognizing words that start with the same sound.
- Struggles when pronouncing new words and remembering them
- Difficulty breaking words apart into sounds
- Trouble blending sounds together to make words
- Challenges in remembering the names and sounds of the letters
- Weak phonological skills (substitutes sounds in words)
Seeking help for your child as soon as literacy development concerns occur is the most important step you can take as a parent or teacher. Our team of experienced speech language pathologists can help your child to overcome their literacy struggles. Our SLPs look at the entire picture and work from the bottom up until your child is confidently reading!