Early Literacy Information
The Get Ready to Read! screening tool is based on the latest research on how young children learn to read. Children who enter kindergarten with strong pre-reading skills are more likely to become strong readers and students. Here is some basic information about those skills and how they are developed:
Learning to read and write begins very early in children's development, well before they enter kindergarten or first grade. In fact, children begin to develop the language skills that they need for reading when they are babies. Babies listen to the sounds that adults make when they talk and then try to imitate what they hear. As they grow, babies will begin to understand common words and use them one by one. Around age 2, children start to put together simple sets of words ("Sam eat apple.") By age 3, he or she can begin to express opinions, needs and feelings.
As children have conversations with adults, listen to books being read aloud, and engage in new experiences, their vocabularies grow. By the preschool years, most children can participate in conversations and tell stories. They can share feelings and ideas, and may try to imitate adult writing. These language skills are part of the foundation that children need in order to be able to learn to read.
But learning to read and write does not happen naturally without adult guidance. During the preschool years, children need adults to show them the different ways that print is used in our world. Children need to have conversations with caring adults, and they need adults to teach them the skills that they will need to be able to read.
More than 20 years of research has shown that in addition to basic language skills and vocabulary growth, certain kinds of skills are especially important for young children to be ready to learn to read. These skills can be divided into three areas or domains. These domains are print knowledge, emergent writing and linguistic awareness.
Print knowledge is a child's understanding of printed letters, words and how books work. Some examples of print knowledge skills include:
- Understanding that print and pictures are different
- Understanding that print carries meaning
- Knowing that print has a variety of functions (street and store signs, lists, letters to a friend, etc.)
- Book rules (how a book opens, turning pages, title and author on cover, etc.)
- Print components (letters, punctuation, sentences)
- Rules of print
- Naming letters
- Printing letters
- Printing name
- Invented spelling
- Message composition
- Active listening
- Rhyming words
- Segmenting sentences
- Segmenting words
- Phonemic awareness
For more in-depth information about how young children get ready to read, check out the books in the Research and Information about Early Literacy section of our early literacy library.
Reprinted with the permission of the National Center for Learning Disabilities. © 1999-2008 Get Ready To Read!, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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