Child Development Tracker: Literacy From Age 4 to 5
Four-year-olds are building their knowledge of written language. They want to know what words in their environment say, and can recognize many letters. By the end of this year, many children understand that letters represent the sounds in spoken words and may associate some letters with their sounds. Most children also are capable of writing some legible letters, and know that writing goes from left-to-right and top to bottom.
Phonological Awareness (awareness of sounds)
- Increased conscious awareness of rhyme and beginning sounds. Child becomes skilled in generating more words that rhyme or that begin with the same sound as a word spoken by an adult. By the end of this year, many children can easily generate a series of 4-5 rhyming words and name 4-5 words that begin with the same sound. They can also isolate the beginning and ending sounds in words, and can form words by blending initial consonant sounds with vowel and consonant sounds that follow (e.g., (sh--op) shop, (c--at) cat, etc.). Some children are able to use this awareness of sounds to create invented spellings of words they wish to write. For most children, it is easier to separate a single consonant from the beginning of a word than to separate consonant blends that begin a word (e.g., "fl-", "pr-", etc.).
- Developing an awareness of sounds can be encouraged by frequent exposure to nursery rhymes, songs and poems that contain rhyming words, and by adults explicitly labeling these as "rhymes" for the child. Adults can also point out words that begin with the same sound, sound out words for the child, and play games with rhyming words and words that begin with the same sound.
- Oral vocabulary size indirectly affects a child's ability to break words down into sounds and segments. A larger vocabulary requires the unconscious mental storage of words in segments when a number of words sound alike (e.g., slip, slap; clap, clip; string, strong). This apparently makes it easier for a child to develop a conscious awareness of speech sounds, and then detect and manipulate these in words.
Reprinted with the permission of PBS. © PBS 2003 - 2008, all rights reserved.
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