Encouraging Early Literacy at Home

Literacy is a crucial skill for children to begin to develop in the early years and one that cannot be grasped or acquired alone. Early language and literacy development are made possible largely through the support of parents, and other important adults in a child’s life. Read on as we highlight a few of our top tips for encouraging early literacy at home with your child.

Engage In Conversation

The first form of language and communication that babies are exposed to is verbal. In the early years, children benefit greatly from listening to adult voices, seeing facial expressions, observing the flow of adult conversations, and direct eye contact. This exposure will prepare children for when they are finally ready to have conversations of their own. When engaging in conversation with your child, it is worth noting that it is best to avoid “baby talk”. When your child starts talking make sure to repeat the words they say so they hear the correct pronunciation. For example, if your child says “wa wa” when referring to water, be sure to repeat it by saying something along the lines of “water, yes. You want some water?” Interact and converse with your child in full sentences, slowly pronouncing words and sounds with accuracy to encourage them to begin to speak on their own when they're ready.

Experience Literacy Together

Early literacy will develop naturally and with ease as children are engaged through fun and meaningful experiences with important people in their lives (YOU!). One way that you can do this is to make an effort to notice and point out writing to your child in everyday life. Daily life is full of rich experiences with language and print, use this to seek and point them out to your child. You can even have a discussion about a sign you saw on the street. There are plenty of opportunities to introduce literacy like reading your grocery list aloud, following a recipe, and baking together. Keep your eyes open for opportunities to explore and experience literacy as a family.

Entice, Rather Than Evaluate

Before children are able to tackle reading and writing, it is important to keep in mind that there are some key skills they need to develop first. First and foremost, children will need your help to develop a basic understanding of what print is. As mentioned above, noticing letters and numbers out in the everyday world is the first step on the way to reading. Help your child work on gaining a basic understanding of the purpose and function of print. As a parent, focus on enticing your child to engage with language and print, rather than evaluating their abilities to read or write. It is important to demonstrate a positive attitude and interest towards storybooks so that your child will do the same and provide tons of encouragement along the way. For example, an illegible doodle proudly declared by your child as “the letter A” can be met with excitement and praise, rather than with disappointment in its failure. Rest assured that as long as children remain interested and encouraged, the skills will develop.

For more information on how to encourage early literacy, see: The Hanen Centre (www.hanen.org)

As a parent, it is important that you begin to develop your child’s literacy skills at a young age. This doesn’t mean making them read and write all day long, it means enticing, engaging, and experiencing literacy with your child. We hope that these 3 tips will help you develop your child’s early literacy skills.