pre-literacy skills

Six Pre-Literacy Skills and How to Encourage Them

Posted on October 31, 2018 : Posted in Early Child Care Education, Education and Development

pre-literacy skills

Before a child learns to read, they need to develop a variety of skills that lay the foundation for literacy. We call these “pre-literacy skills,” and they come easily for most children through regular reading and simple instruction. Below we will briefly discuss six of these skills, how they help your child, and what you can do to encourage them.

Verbal Vocabulary

An essential element of reading is the knowledge and use of a wide variety of words. The more words a child knows and understands, the more quickly they will connect their knowledge to the information on a written page. In addition to learning individual words, a solid verbal vocabulary helps a child understand grammar and story sequencing. One of the best ways you can encourage the growth of your child’s vocabulary is to regularly talk to them about the world around you. Don’t try to simplify your explanations. Instead, use a wide range of words and encourage your child to tell you if he doesn’t understand what a word means.

Print Motivation

This pre-literacy skill has a fancy name, but really all it means is that your child has a desire to read. Some children are born with this desire and are able to sit for stories at a very young age. Others are less motivated to sit and listen. But even if your child is reticent to sit for story time, don’t give up! Read books on their favorite subject (a children’s librarian can help you find some), use funny voices and big expressions, and don’t worry too much about them sitting still. Children are good at listening even when they seem to be playing. Before long, they’ll be begging for just one more story.

Print Awareness

One day, your child will point out to you that there are words everywhere. It may not be news to you, but to her, it is a revelation. Print awareness, or the realization that written language is all around us, is an essential pre-literacy stage that shifts a child’s understanding of language. To encourage your child’s print awareness, point to words on the page as you read them. Additionally, point out words as you see them out in the world. Read signs and labels aloud.

Letter Knowledge

We often teach letter knowledge without intending to do so. We point out the first letter of our child’s name, we sing the alphabet song, and we read books like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom on repeat. Letter knowledge simply means that your child understands that words are made up of letters, which make different sounds. A more advanced form of this skill is the ability to identify each letter on sight and relate its phonetic sound. You can encourage letter knowledge through songs, books, and games that focus on one letter at a time.

Phonological Awareness

This pre-literacy skill is an extension of letter knowledge. Phonological awareness means that your child understands that words are made up of smaller parts, and those parts can be changed. Thus, this is an essential skill for literacy and is often missing in children who struggle with reading. To encourage phonological awareness, play word games with your child, including rhyming words, leaving out parts of words and having them guess, and making up poetry or songs.

Narrative Skills

A child who has narrative skills can tell a story with detail and in the correct order. Sometimes this will include a child retelling a story from a book or a movie, but it also includes the ability to describe or recount something that occurred in their own lives. This skill assists a child to understand the events and descriptions in the stories they begin to read on their own. To encourage your child’s narrative skills, ask them questions about their day and the stories you read them. Additionally, avoid “yes” or “no” questions to encourage your child’s creativity in answering.

The best gift you can give your pre-literate child is the gift of reading aloud. Spending time with your favorite picture books is a wonderful way to prepare his or her mind for the challenge and joy of learning to read. Additionally, the Chapel Hill library has many storytime hours each week, including hours for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, as well as in Spanish and on weekends for families. Exposing your child to abundant literature and language is a gift that will continue to give for years to come. Looking for childcare that values pre-literacy skills and language? Consider Legacy Academy Chapel Hill, where the love of literature and stories is seen throughout our curriculum. Call or visit today.