Early literacy is the knowledge and skills children need to learn before they will be able to learn to read and write. Early literacy begins at birth and happens naturally with parents and caregivers as they go through daily routines. As children grow, every day activities such as reading the same book every night, pointing out words in grocery store flyers, looking for familiar signs, and writing scribbles on a thank you note all help children prepare for reading and writing.
Early literacy skills include the ability to:
- Listen and tell stories with others.
- Learn lots of new words.
- Understand stories and how print works.
- Draw, scribble, and copy shapes and print.
- Understand how words can be broken into sounds.
- Learn about letters and how letters represent sounds.
Why is early literacy so important?
Children who become strong readers are more likely to live a healthy life, do well in school and enter the workforce successfully.
Reading to your child will:
- help your child’s brain grow the connections needed to learn speech and language skills,
- allow them to develop a love of reading,
- help them to learn the sounds and words they need to talk,
- give you an opportunity to bond, and
- teach your child many new words.
Tips for building literacy skills:
- Offer interesting books for your child to choose.
- Read or tell stories together.
- Talk about stories you have read and how they relate to your child’s life.
- Offer activities that focus on reading and writing such as making shopping lists, reading signs and reading recipes.
Shared reading is an approach to reading that helps the child become the teller of the story. You can do this by asking your child to:
- answer questions about the story,
- share in the telling of the story,
- make guesses about what might happen next in the story,
- act out parts of the story, and
- relate parts of the story to their own life.
Children’s math skills start to develop long before school begins. In fact, preschool numeracy skills are powerful predictors of later school success. What families and caregivers do daily, such as sorting socks, counting toes, noticing who got a bigger piece of cake, and setting the table all prepare children for math success.
- Read, Speak, Sing: Your baby and early literacy (video) – Canadian Paediatric Society
- Dialogic Reading: An Effective Way to Read to Preschoolers
- Read, Speak, Sing to Your Baby: How Parents can Promote Literacy from Birth
- Which books are Best? How the Type of Book Affects Children’s Language Learning
- Book Reading Checklist
- Shoot for the SSTaRS: A Strategy for Teaching Vocabulary to Promote Emergent Literacy
To make a referral to Early Expressions Preschool Speech and Language program, complete our online referral form.
Referrals can also be made by phone at 613-544-3400 or 1-800-544-3400 ext. 3175 and press 3.
Reprinted with the permission of KFL&A Public Health.
Adapted from the Ottawa-Carleton Catholic School Board -Staff Development, Evaluation and Research Department.
Centre for Child & Youth Development
Kingston Health Sciences Centre,
Hotel Dieu Site
166 Brock Street
Kingston, ON K7L 5G2
Phone 613 544-3400 ext. 3175
Toll Free 1 855-544-3400
Fax 613 545-3557