Preschool Years: Encouraging Emerging Literacy
The preschool years are a prime time for developing the skills needed to support future literacy and reading skills. Formal reading instruction at this point is NOT recommended for most children. Instead, providing an environment rich in language opportunities built around the child’s every day experiences is the key to ensuring that pre-reading skills are acquired before the child enters kindergarten.
The skills that need to be developed and nurtured during the preschool years include:
Understanding that the letters and symbols that permeate a child’s world have meaning, and that they can be used in many different ways to communicate and share information. Letters, combined into words, are written symbols for spoken language.
The Alphabetic Principle
More than being able to recite the alphabet or sing the “Alphabet Song,” children who are ready to enter school need to be able to recognize most letters automatically. The less time a child has to spend thinking about the names of individual letters, the more he will be able to concentrate on words as a whole.
Ouch! This is a very complex-sounding word for a group of concepts that are key to reading success, and not as complicated as the term implies. Basically, children need to understand that language is broken up into individual units of sound, they need to be able to distinguish these individual sounds and combine them in different ways to form new words, they need to hear the rhymes and rhythms of language. They will also need to connect these sounds to individual letters or groups of letters.
The good news is that all of the above required skills, and other concepts that are important like counting, “pretend” writing, and recognizing colors, shapes, and patterns can be acquired using every day activities and opportunities. During this time, there are several things adults can do to help develop a child’s early literacy skills.
Create a Language-Rich Environment
Make sure the tools of literacy are readily available by providing paper, writing materials, and books. Spend time talking about the stories you read and the day’s activities. Show and share with your child the ways in which you use print, reading, and writing to conduct your every day life.
Sing Songs and Play With Words
You can make up silly words to reinforce language sounds and rhyming skills. Talk about the names of things, find things that begin with the same letter as your child’s first name, label things around the house or classroom.
Read With Your Preschooler
The research is very clear that the amount of time a child has spent sharing books and stories with caring adults is the greatest predictor of future reading success.
Programs and Activities
Henderson Happenings (City of Henderson, Parks and Recreation Programs)
Listing of classes and programs offered through the City of Henderson Department of Parks and Recreation
Dignity Health St. Rose Dominican Hospitals Family to Family Connection
This free, state-wide resource program is for all parents of children from birth to 48 months. Services include hospital visits, classes and workshops at the New Baby Center, and a Resource Lending Center with books, videos, and educational materials. There are other Family to Family Connection locations throughout Southern Nevada.
National Center for Families Learning: Interactive Tools
Spend time together with your family while you have fun and learn!
Wee Can Sign
Long before they can speak, babies and toddlers can communicate using their hands! Babies (some as young as 8 months of age) can show you what they are thinking about using American Sign Language. Learn this early, effective form of communication which has been proven to reduce frustration, increase vocabulary and enhance the parent/child bond.
Born 2 Sign
Signing is a powerful communication tool for children too young to speak and is fun for children of all ages. Includes an online signing dictionary.
Make Learning Fun!
Prepare children for school and support them once they are there with this educational alternative to other entertainment choices for children.
Printable early literacy activities.
A bilingual site for families and educators of English language learners, filled with information and activities.
Monthly Activity Calendar
A great resource for you to engage your child in activities that enhance their reading abilities every day.
Games, videos, coloring sheets, and more!
Online, streaming video program featuring Screen Actors Guild members reading children's books aloud. Includes activities.
Educational web sites and games designed to stimulate creativity, learning, enjoyment, and imagination.
Helping Your Child Learn Mathematics
Activities for children in preschool through grade 5.
Your child's "ages and stages," as well as age-appropriate activities for encouraging learning and pre-literacy skills. Sponsored by United Way Success by Six.
Read to Your Baby
Read-aloud tips, book reviews, and more.
Parents Action for Children
Rob Reiner and his wife founded this organization to raise public awareness about early childhood development and advocacy.
Zero to Three
Boston University School of Medicine and the Erickson Institute maintain this comprehensive site to keep parents, child care providers, and pediatricians up to date on the latest information and research about this age group.
U.S. Department of Education: Helping Your Preschool Child
Get your child ready for school with activities for kids from infancy through age 5.
American Academy of Pediatrics
Health and parenting information from the experts.
Video clips, helpful information, and research on parenting and early learning.
Can't understand why your child behaves the way he does? This online questionnaire might help you better understand your child's temperament.
Through safe shelter, support, advocacy, counseling and community education, this organization provides a comprehensive approach to working with families to stop abuse in the family environment.
HopeLink of Southern Nevada
Comprehensive assistance and referral services for families in critical need.
Nevada Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
WIC is a special supplemental nutrition program that serves income eligible pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutrition risk.
Family And Child Treatment of Southern Nevada (FACT)
Providing counseling and services to children, adults and families to heal from the traumas of abuse, neglect and violence.
Southern Nevada Health District
Aimed at protecting and promoting the health, the environment, and the well-being of Southern Nevada residents and visitors.
Nevada Early Intervention Services (NEIS)
State agency that serves families of children birth to age three with developmental delays. These services help the entire family, not just the child, and are offered at no cost to families.