Early literacy refers to the fundamental basics that children need to know before they learn how to read or write. This includes:
- Letter knowledge
- Phonological awareness
- Print awareness
- Narrative skills
- Print motivation
There are many benefits of improving your child’s early language and literacy skills. Early literacy helps your child in processing information, drawing meaning and interpretation from interactions with others, and expressing their emotions. These benefits have roll-on advantages in other aspects of their development such as interacting with peers, developing motor skills through writing practice, and encouraging confidence when interacting with others.
For preschoolers in particular, early literacy skills form the bedrock for their primary school readiness and encourages a lifelong love for learning.
When thinking of early literacy strategies, we tend to gravitate towards reading or storytelling for kids. However, early literacy can be championed in many ways – here are some literacy activities for preschoolers you can practice at home:
Early literacy doesn’t just come from storytelling or story books. Singing is another great way to improve your child’s phonological awareness, which is the ability to understand the different sounds in spoken language. Phonological awareness can occur at the word, syllable, rhyme, or phoneme level in order of increasing difficulty.
Understanding these concepts can be difficult for a young child (think about how common it is for children to mispronounce certain word, sometimes with hilarious consequences!) hence singing allows them to explore these concepts in a fun and enjoyable way.
The best part about singing is that it can also take place anywhere and at any time. Playing songs in different languages or dialects also helps broaden your child’s potential for learning that language, as they gain exposure to phonemes unique to that particular language.
2. Sight words
High frequency sight words (also known as sight words) refer to a technique used for helping children learn how to read and write. The idea is to have children memorise and recognise some common words without needing to break the word down into its letters or syllables. This strengthens their vocabulary, letter knowledge, and print awareness.
Sight words are further split into frequently used words (such as ‘can’, ‘will’, or ‘see’) and non-phonetic words (such as ‘buy’, ‘knee’, ‘walk’). The latter are common words that cannot be read by breaking them down into their phonetic building blocks (e.g. the silent ‘k’ in ‘knee’). Learning words from this category helps children navigate complex grammar and spelling rules while also helping them understand how to pronounce similarly written words (e.g. ‘knee’ and ‘know’).
There are many sight word charts and flashcards available online that you can download for at-home practice. As they grow older, familiarity with sight words can also deepen their print motivation skills as they can feel confident reading new texts and books.
3. Sign language
One of the most popular parenthood trends recently is teaching your infant or toddler age-appropriate sign language. The key benefit of baby sign language is providing your child with a way to communicate and express their likes, dislikes, and needs even before they are fully verbal.
Encouraging alternative non-verbal literacy and communication methods such as sign language helps to improve your child’s narrative skills as they can describe the objects and events around them even if they do not have the capacity to form words yet.
Strengthen your child’s Early Literacy Skills with MindChamps
Here at MindChamps PreSchool, we provide a safe and nurturing environment where your child can nurture their early literacy skills amongst other developmental cornerstones.
Through literacy and reading classes for preschoolers such as MindChamps Reading & Writing™ (Natural Literacy™), Fun with Language™, and The Love for Chinese Language™, we use fun and engaging activities in our preschool curriculum to get your child interested in reading, writing, and learning. Our classes encompass all preschool levels from infancy to kindergarten, and are geared at improving your child’s readiness for mainstream primary education.