When it comes to basic language skills, your child needs to build literacy skills as stepping stones. They won’t be able to communicate if they don’t have a good foundation in literacy.
There is more to literacy development in children than reading. In this article, we will look at what literacy means and about what you can do to support your child’s literacy.
What is Literacy and Why is it Important for Children
A child’s ability to read, listen, and speak is covered by the concept of literacy. Children with high literacy are capable of using language in both speech and writing.
“90% of brain growth happens before kindergarten” starts, so literacy is one of the core skills that kids need to start learning early. Negative long-term effects on education can be experienced by children with literacy problems.
Your child will feel more confident reading and speaking from a strong literacy foundation. If you create a good literacy environment at home, these skills can be started early.
5 Essential Skills of Literacy Development
A lot of people think that literacy is only about your child’s reading ability. There are five skills for balanced literacy development.
Reading and Understanding Written Text (Comprehension)
Comprehension is what most people think of when they say literacy. Your child’s ability to comprehend and take in information from a book is important. But this also relates to being able to pick up on what another person is saying, even if it’s at a slower pace.
Hearing and Identifying Sounds (Phonemic Awareness)
Your child’s familiarity with independent sounds and their use to form words is called phonemic awareness. The principle that the sounds of /c/, /a/ and /t/ are what make up the word cat should be understood by your child.
Connecting written letters with spoken letters (Phonics)
The meaning of phonics is different from phonemic awareness. Phonics is the ability to relate written letters to their sounds, not necessarily the meaning. It also includes learning about the sound changes required for combined letters, like /ch/.
Remembering Words (Vocabulary)
Your child will benefit from practicing vocabulary. The process doesn’t end with how many words your child memorizes. They need to know when and how to use the words they’ve been learning.
Saying Words Accurately (Fluency)
A child’s ability to write and talk at a natural pace without difficulty is called fluency. It’s important that your child can use words with minimal stuttering or stopping mid-sentence.
But don’t forget that everyone repeats words and stops to think. It’s important to speak naturally with minimal pauses to reflect on word choices.
Important Roles for Literacy
Communication skills can be improved by practicing with other people. As a parent and primary caregivers, you will be their first teacher. There are many ways for your child to grow their literacy skills. Before they step foot into a classroom, parent involvement will help them learn.
When your child reaches school age, the parental role goes on. In school and at home, literacy should still be a constant learning experience. It will boost their literacy development if you are involved in everyday language use.
You can work with your child’s teachers to make sure they are exposed to the language correctly. If you want to support them at home, ask them what they’re learning in school.
How Parents Can Help
There are more ways that you can help your child develop literacy. Here are a few.
- It’s a good idea to include your child in daily activities. It will help them feel like they are part of the family and have a positive effect on their confidence in talking.
- Listen to songs and rhymes with your child. Patterns that practice repeating sounds at the beginning and end of words are often included. Simple tongue twisters are also useful.
- Incorporating literacy skills with fun games is a good idea. Literacy learning will become more fun and engaging with the help of educational games.
- Encourage reading for fun. If your child can’t figure out more than 5 words in the book, you can read it to them instead. It’s a good idea to listen and read books too.
- Being a good listener is important. By listening, you will set an example of how to listen.
What You Shouldn’t Do
- Don’t push them to read. A child can lose their enthusiasm for reading if they feel like it’s tiring. Check engagement levels from time to time by setting realistic goals such as 20 minutes a day together. It’s a good idea to change to a more interesting book if they get bored.
- Don’t get discouraged. As a parent, literacy development does not need to come from a genius. They benefit from spoken language as well. Talking with your child on a daily basis and telling them stories builds their vocabulary.
- Don’t be hard on them. Language development activities should stay light and engaging. If there are any target sounds that you want your child to practice, do it only a few times a week instead of repeating it for 5 minutes straight. Their stress will only increase.
The development of a child’s literacy abilities depends on the involvement of the parent. All aspects of your child’s literacy boost can be combined with daily activities at home. It’s well worth it to develop your child’s skills.
To learn how speech therapy can help with literacy, book a free consultation today.