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Early Literacy Skills

Learn about the 5 Practices of early literacy, important milestones in early literacy development, and tips you can use to support early literacy from birth.

Ready to Read

Early literacy is what children know about reading and writing before they can actually read and write.  Early literacy skills are the roots of reading success -- and it is never too early to plant the seed! 

Children prepare to read long before they enter school.  In fact, early literacy skills begin to develop right from birth.  A child's positive early experiences with books and language lay the foundation for success in learning to read. Using the five early literacy practices listed below, there is so much you can do to help build reading readiness.


 

TALKING with you helps children learn! Whether your child is babbling or speaking words, the more you respond the more they will learn.

SINGING slows down language so children hear the different sounds that make up words. This helps when they begin to read printed language.

READING together – shared reading – is the single most important way to help children get ready to read.

WRITING and reading go together. Talking with your child about their scribbles and drawings helps them make the connection between spoken and printed language.

PLAYING pretend helps children think symbolically. This helps them understand that spoken and written words can stand for real objects and experiences.

Tips to Encourage Early Literacy Skills

  • Read together every day. Your child will learn that reading and spending time together is important.
  • Make reading time a warm and happy experience. If your child loses interest, put the book away for another time.
  • Point to objects in the book’s illustrations and encourage your child to describe what they see.
  • Tell your child the names and sounds of letters and words you see everywhere: books, food packages, traffic signs, store signs.
  • Show your child how useful print is in daily life: making a grocery list, reading a recipe, following an instruction manual or finding directions on a map.

Early Literacy Milestones (up to age 6)

The sites below provide basic information about children's developmental milestones related to early literacy.  As you will learn it is never to early to start supporting early literacy skills.  As with all milestones for child development, these are a guideline only.  Each child and their development is unique.

Short Lists of Basic Literacy Milestones from Reading Rockets:

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