Parent Tips for Developing Language and Literacy in Children Infants to Primary Grade Children

May 21st, 2012

by Katrina Brooke

Infants:
• Talk and sing to your baby when you change his diaper, give him a bath, feed him lunch, or
join him in play.
• Help increase your baby’s vocabulary by asking “What’s that?” or “Where’s the dog?” when
looking at and enjoying books together.
Toddlers:
• Read stories before bedtime. It makes a good transition between active play and rest time.
• Take short trips to new places and talk about what is happening around you.
Preschoolers:
• Encourage preschool children to carry out steps to written recipes or to look at labels.
• Play picture-card games with your child.
• Point out words on signs.
Primary grade children:
• Continue to read with your child even if he has already learned to read.
• Visit the library on a regular basis.
• Show children that you read books and magazines for information and enjoyment.

The Learning to Read and Write Overview below (adapted from Neuman, Copple &
Bredekamp, 2000) is a broad look at children’s language and literacy development from
birth to approximately age eight, including children with special needs, children from
diverse cultures and English language learners. Teachers may encourage parents to consider
and discuss ways to incorporate the following aspects of literacy development into their
family routines:
The Power and Pleasure of Literacy. Children’s success with language and literacy
requires opportunities to enjoy and value the power that comes with literacy. A critical
feature that supports this enjoyment is meaningful interactions with adults through positive
literacy experiences. When children see parents reading for pleasure, children see reading as
a positive activity.
The Literate Environment. A literate environment provides opportunities to broaden social
knowledge and language development. It includes use of print in purposeful ways,
language-rich experiences with others, a variety and abundance of literacy materials, and
representations of varied cultural and linguistic backgrounds.
Language Development. Language development involves understanding the role of
language skills and word knowledge in meaningful contexts. It is important that children
experience a large quantity of discourse and a variety of language. How language is used in
home and educational settings influences children’s literacy learning.
Building Knowledge and Comprehension. Through enriching experiences with their
families and in educational settings, children build knowledge that allows them to assimilate
new learning and refine knowledge and concepts.
Phonological Awareness. In infancy, children begin to attend to the sounds of speech.
Gradually children become more aware of the sounds around them that eventually lead to
making connections between sounds and letters.
Letters and Words. To become proficient readers, children learn that letters of the alphabet
form patterns to become words. In becoming skilled readers, they are able to use their
beginning knowledge of letters and words to increase word recognition and support their
efforts to read and write.
Types of Text. When children become familiar with, experience, and distinguish different
types of text (such as stories, conversations, poetry, dramatization, and messages) they are
able to read and create these forms themselves.
Knowledge of Print. Children develop knowledge of print when they observe and interact
with others as they read, write, and use print for many purposes. In addition, children’s
awareness of letters, the general shape and length of familiar words, the mechanics of
reading and writing, and features of text increase their knowledge of print and how it works.

(Adapted from National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1997.)

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