Child Development Tracker: Literacy From Age 5 to 6
Five-year-olds begin to extend their oral language skills to reading and writing. They know their uppercase and most lowercase letters, and understand that letters represent specific sounds in spoken words. This knowledge helps them to sound out words in print and write out words based on their sounds. They also understand the basic conventions of print, can discuss stories and are able to tell their own tales.
Phonological Awareness (Awareness of Sounds)
- By the end of this year, almost all children can quickly generate 4-5 words that rhyme, name 4-5 words that begin with the same sound, and blend sound segments provided by adults to produce the word made by these segments (e.g., Adult pauses after each sound for man, "m"-"a"-"n," and asks the child to put the sounds together into a word). By the end of this year, many children are inventing spellings by isolating individual beginning and ending sounds in words they wish to write. Some children are segmenting all or almost all sounds in words they wish to write, including words that begin with two or more consonants (e.g., "fl-", "str-", etc.). Many children's invented spellings show a single or two-letter symbol for each sound segment in words that they write.
- Acquiring an awareness of sounds can be encouraged by asking children to isolate beginning and ending sounds in words, spelling words for children by sounding them out, helping children sound out printed words, encouraging them to spell words by sounding them out, and playing word games that involve deletion or substitution of speech sounds (e.g., "What word would we have if we took /k/ off of "cat?").
Book Knowledge and Appreciation
- During this year, becomes acquainted with the Table of Contents that is provided in non-fiction books, and with the idea of a glossary and index. Many children also become familiar with chapter designations for longer fiction books.
- Attention for stories continues to increase among children who have a long history of hearing stories read aloud. Many children can tolerate waiting until the next day for an adult to finish a long story or another chapter in a chapter book. Many children can tolerate discussions during a story that stop the reading for a period of time, without losing interest.
- Many children begin to fingerpoint read (e.g., point word for word as the text is recited) familiar predictable text books.
- By the end of this year, many children are quite coherent in retelling fairly long stories. The recently-developed skill of using complex sentences enables many children to relate stories more efficiently than they could a year earlier.
- Many children ask all kinds of questions, and make evaluative comments about characters' actions (e.g., "That wasn't very nice!"). Children become better able to respond to questions for which little information is provided by the text, and to which children bring less personal experience.
- Knows the author of many familiar books. May show a preference for an author or two.
- May show strong preferences for story versus non-fiction, or vice versa. May show preferences for specific authors.
- Interest and enjoyment of books is highly variable, depending on availability of books and whether adults spend time sharing these with children in positive ways.
- May choose books from among things available to entertain self. Shows strong preference for familiar books when using books independently, but may also show interest in books that have not been read aloud. May request visits to the library to get books, if library use has been encouraged by adults.
Reprinted with the permission of PBS. © PBS 2003 - 2008, all rights reserved.
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