Literacy development is when your child learns about expressing him or herself with noises, words and language. It forms the foundation for reading, writing, communicating and interacting with people. When it comes to supporting your child’s early literacy development it is never too early to start!
In Early Language and Literacy a review by Macquarie University the authors claim: “The importance of early language and literacy has been widely acknowledged in contemporary research, which has shown that the foundations for success in reading and writing are laid from birth.”
This being the case it’s important to help support your child’s literacy development as soon as you get accustomed to having a new baby in your life. From birth and well into teen years, children benefit from your involvement, but helping your child develop literacy skills need not mean a stringent programme of flash cards or formal education. It can be as simple as talking, playing games and reading, and it should always be fun for your child.
We outline four simple ways you can help your child to develop literacy skills:
Yes, even from birth, your child will benefit from hearing you talk. Even just mimicking the gurgling and baby babble sounds that your child makes, will have a positive effect. An ABC report says baby talk “plays a vital role in a child's development, helping them grasp the complexities of language and connect with the world around them.”
As babies develop into toddlers, it’s important to keep up the chatter. Talk can include describing what you are doing, seeing or tasting, asking questions of your child and telling him stories. If your child asks you a question help him to further develop his skills by asking in return, “What do you think?”
If your child mispronounces a word, try not to tell them they got it wrong. Instead, repeat the word correctly in a sentence back to them.
Singing helps with speech but it can also help with understanding the way language works. Songs contain rhyming words and rhythm which also form part of language and help children to recognise these patterns. Just like reading, singing requires listening, providing a child with another way to learn words and feelings expressed through music. Having an older brother or sister sing to the baby is a great way for siblings to bond as well.
It is never too early to start reading to your child and it is a helpful way to signal that it’s time for bed. Try to read to your baby or child every night before bed. Even babies benefit from hearing your voice and being exposed to new words. When children are old enough to sit up, use your finger to track the words that you are reading. This can help babies and children learn the process of reading. Learn more about why reading is important, particularly for boys.
Younger children will love books that engage more than one sense, so opt for touch and feel books, books with flaps and add intrigue by making sounds for different animals, the wind, trucks etc.
As children get older and learn to read for themselves, take turns in reading pages. Hearing you read, even when your child knows how to read himself, helps him understand how to emphasise words, learn about punctuation and know when different characters are speaking. Ask your child questions about the book you’re reading together.
Recent research has shown that reading to your child well into their teenage years can also have a positive effect, not just by improving literacy, but on relationships as well. The rise of audiobooks and podcasts suggests that people of all ages enjoy hearing stories aloud.
There are many ways to encourage a love of reading in your son. Reading aloud to him is just one of them.
Turning words into games is both fun and educational for your child. There are the simple games that make long car trips more bearable such as ‘I spy’ and then there are more complex games such as Scrabble for older children – there are even editions of Scrabble aimed at younger children nowadays. Turn everyday things into games to encourage literacy. Ask your child to write a wish list of gifts he’d like to receive for his birthday, write his own story, or if he shows an interest in cooking, have him write down recipes as you prepare them.
For younger children, look for familiar letters when you are out and about. If your child’s name starts with ‘M’ encourage him to find the letter ‘M’ in street signs, shops, at the park or even in his books. Play rhyming games, ask your child to list words starting with the same letter or see if he can form letters using his body.
At Trinity Grammar School, we recognise that a great start to a boy’s learning journey can make all the difference to his academic success. Pre-Kindergarten at Trinity is a specialised option for boys that may not be quite ready for Kindergarten.
Our well-structured Pre-Kindergarten programme will encourage your son to engage in a variety of developmentally appropriate learning experiences that nurture his curiosity and sense of wonder, and challenge his thinking – making for a smooth transition to Kindergarten.
To learn why Pre-Kindergarten at Trinity Grammar School provides the best preparation for school, download our Pre-Kindergarten prospectus.