In the following videos we break down literacy and development by age group:
We hope to add to what you’re already doing with your little ones and to highlight why skills
you see each day are important in building their foundations for literacy!
Early Literacy – Introduction Video
Literacy development begins at birth. Learning to talk, listen, read and write are skills that develop from experiences early in a child’s life, and it all begins with RELATIONSHIPS! Early literacy does not mean early reading! Early Literacy skills are the foundation for learning to talk, listen, read, and write…which are connected throughout all growth and development. Each skill builds on the next; playing an important role in the progression to all types of communication.
Early Literacy – Infant
CuesGive & Take ConversationJoint AttentionPincer Grasp
Cues are a baby’s way of trying to tell you what they need, the sounds and facial expressions they make are their earliest form of talking. Babies generally show different cues when they’re hungry, in pain, feeling tired or playful.
With infants this means making eye contact while listening to their coos and other sounds, focusing only on them. Imitate the sounds they make, stop…wait for them to make another sound, then repeat it back. An example is talking to your baby while changing their diaper, explain to them what you’re doing or talk to them about where the two of you are going that day, then pause occasionally for them to vocalize and continue that “conversation.”
When a baby points to or gives you something they’re interested in tell them the name for it, for example, “that’s an airplane in the sky!” then talk to them more about airplanes. As much as possible, follow their lead. For instance rather than asking close-ended questions in the car like, “how many windows can you count in the car?” When you’re child says, “look, there’s a fire engine” you might follow up with “where do you think it’s going?” then expand on your child’s answers.
When an infant picks up a small object or food with their thumb and index finger they’re using a pincer grasp, which is an important part of fine motor development because it helps strengthen hand muscles that will later be used to pick up a fork to eat, then hold a pencil as they begin scribbling and learning to write.
Babies enter the world ready for relationships.They like to listen. They recognize and show interest in their family’s language already heard for months in the womb and they’re able to see differences in human faces. A baby’s development changes the most during the first year of life. They naturally seek trusting relationships with caring adults to meet their basic needs. Touch and caring physical interaction is key for their development. There are things that babies typically do during the first years of life that are signs of future literacy skills. These skills are all connected and each play a role in helping the next develop.
Early Literacy – Toddler
Behavior is CommunicationGive & Take ConversationRhymingFive Senses
It’s important to remember that ALL behavior is communication and sometimes toddlers (and even preschoolers) may cry or tantrum as a way to communicate their needs when they don’t have the words to express themselves. This is their way of communicating that they have lost the ability to manage their emotions; they may simply be tired or hungry. It’s important to attempt to understand what they’re communicating, rather than trying to stop or ignore the behavior. You can help by giving them words for their emotions, for example “you seem…tired, hungry, sad”
For toddlers this means talking with them about the real things they’re doing and it is the most powerful and natural way for them to learn language. Talking “with” means being patient as they try to express themselves, waiting and not rushing them, then responding to their questions and comments through conversation.
Rhyming and rhythm help little ones hear sounds and syllables in words, which later help them learn to read, an example is “night, night, sleep tight” There are lots of great rhyming books and songs to share with little ones.
The five senses are touching, seeing, feeling, smelling and tasting. Using the senses involves different areas of the brain, which is important for early literacy development because it connects what a child is learning to things in their environment, like how a real apple tastes, feels and smells.
Toddlers are natural explorers. They observe, listen to, touch, taste, and experience everything in their environment. They’ve already formed lots of primary relationships as infants and find security in familiar objects and everyday routines. Although their language is growing rapidly, it’s important to remember all behavior is communication and sometimes toddlers (and even preschoolers) may cry or tantrum as a way to communicate their needs when they don’t have the words to express themselves.
Early Literacy – Preschool
Receptive LanguageExpressive languageEnvironmental PrintPretend PlayProbing QuestionsHand Dominance
Receptive language is being able to listen to and understand what people are saying through their words, gestures and facial expressions.
Expressive language means being able to communicate with others using words, gestural cues and facial expressions.
This is the print you and your child see in everyday life. It’s the name on a cereal box, a STOP sign or other labels, logo signs and colors we all learn to recognize. Environmental print is everywhere and is a great starting place for children to make connections by “reading” within the context of their every day experiences.
Pretend play is playing make-believe and taking on different roles, trying out new expressions and other voices and dressing up. It can also be substituting an object to represent something else, like pretending a block is a telephone.
Probing questions help children to process and problem solve. We can help them figure out how something works, instead of doing it for them, by asking probing questions like “what do you think will happen when you put that next big block on the tower?”
Hand dominance refers to whether a child uses their left or right hand to write, use scissors, hold a fork and other self-help skills. Hand dominance is determined before a baby is born.
Preschool ages are generally considered to range from three to five, so preschoolers come in all shapes and sizes. Even though their language skills have improved a lot they often still rely on our facial expressions, tone of voice and gestures to help them understand how things work. As they get older their vocabulary continues to grow quickly. They begin to be more in touch with their body and can tell you how they feel and talk about their ideas. Preschoolers love to tell stories, have conversations and are curious to know more about everything! They generally ask lots of questions and are interested in the meaning of new words.