Why do you need to worry about educating your child before school anyway?
According to makewayforbooks.org, “90% of brain growth happens by the age of five, children who receive high quality education before the age of 5 are 40% less likely to be held back a grade, and 70% more likely to graduate from high school.” Whoa! Does that put a lot of pressure on your shoulders or what?
Don’t worry! You are capable of being that quality education and yes, it will be easy!
You have probably heard teachers and other moms throwing around the words “literacy development”. I’m sure you know the importance of reading to your children, but do you really understand what literacy development is?
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Literacy development is the skills children develop in order to use language, both written and spoken, to communicate in, and understand their world.
How do you help your child become a reader and a writer?
There are five stages of literacy development. These five stages include both reading and spelling because both go hand in hand in literacy development. However, it is totally fine if your child is in one stage for reading and another for writing.
Take a look at the first three stages.
(Click on the image with each stage to get a deeper look!)
Emergent readers and writers are those who cannot yet read or write words, but are starting to understand the spoken language and that pictures and stories contain meaning. Your child is in this stage from the time he or she is born until his or her preschool years (it could be longer or shorter for some children).
In this stage, your child will start to
- express his or herself through spoken language
- recognize familiar words, signs, and logos
- Sing the alphabet
- recognize some letters and sounds, such as those in his or her name
- Draw simple shapes
- “Read” books by telling stories while looking at the pictures
- Memorize stories that have been read over and over
- rhyme words
- Sing songs
- write some letters
All of these skills are the very first steps and are extremely important to literacy development.
Early (also known as alphabetic) readers and writers
Children in this stage are starting to understand the alphabet and how it works in reading, writing, and speaking. Your child will most likely be in this stage in kindergarten to second Grade (or somewhere in between), depending on development.
Once your child enters this stage you will see some or all of the following;
- Letter recognition
- Understanding of how letters make sounds and knowledge of many of the sounds
- Beginning to sound out three letter, cvc (consonant-vowel-consonant) words, such as cat.
- Slow, labored reading as your child works to sound out words
- The use of several strategies to read words, such as using pictures, context clues, first sounds, and sounding out.
- Begin to recognize sight words (words they see a lot, but are not easy to sound out, like is, the, there, etc.)
- Write words using sounds. Will often leave out vowels, blends (such as sl in slip becomes sip), and misspell more sophisticated words like ball as bol.
- Write his or her name
- Start spacing between words
- Recognize words in text he or she has seen before
This can be a very exciting stage as you will start to see your children as readers and writers and their confidence will instantly increase.
Transition readers and writers
In this stage, your child will start to see words and spell words in chunks. This can be so exciting. Rather than hear your child read each sound in each word, he or she will start to chunk many of the words in text and may read start as st-art, rather than s-t-ar-t. Your child will likely be between the ages of 7-9. This number is just an average and it is absolutely possible (and okay) if your child is outside of these ages. You may also start to see your child exhibit some skills from a couple different stages at once.
You will also see other noticeable differences in this stage.
- A great understanding of phonics and phonemes and how to use this knowledge for reading and writing. An easy way to remember the difference between phonemes and phonics is; phonemes are what we hear (it can be done with our eyes closed or the lights off); phonics is what we see (the letters we see and the sounds that match).
- Reading chunks of words
- Easily reading most one syllable words using chunks and starting to attempt two and three syllable words.
- Knowing diphthongs, r-controlled vowels, long vowel patterns, and other complex spelling patterns.
- Spelling becomes much more accurate. Long vowel patterns may become confused at times, such as spelling hope as hoap, but most likely knowing the difference between hope and hop.
- Able to comprehend a story easier because your child will spend less time sounding out (decoding) words.
- Has a large bank of sight words.
- By the end of this stage, your child will begin to read chunks of words or phrases, such as ‘on the table’ rather than word by word, on-the-table.
What if your kid doesn’t fall into the category at the right age?
First of all, stop comparing your child to other children or statistics. This will only make you and your child feel defeated and discouraged. Children learn very differently and at different speeds. Your child may require extra time or extra practice before mastering certain skills and that is okay. You can use the ages as a guideline for each stage, but do not rely solely on this document. You can always talk to your child’s doctor if you have any concerns.
Your child may have trouble learning each skill because of a learning difficulty such as dyslexia or something else, but it is also possible that the timing will be different for each child. Keep these guidelines in mind, but most importantly, watch your child and teach at the level he or she is, rather than where you think he or she should be.
So, what should you do with this information?
Use the information above to determine what stage your child is in and how you can help continue that growth.
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Read, Read, Read!