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  • Back On Track Early Childhood Professionals

The importance of literacy and how it develops language skills.

Why literacy is so important at all ages and stages?

It is never too early to start reading to young children.

Literacy is an important skill we can pass onto our children and something you and your children can enjoy for life.

Reading to your child from an early age is a great opportunity to sit quietly, cuddle and read short stories. It is a great way for a baby to enjoy the flow of words and the sound of your voice not to mention a lovely way to bond with your new baby.

As your child gets older it is a great opportunity for you to start pointing to colours, shapes, animals and objects and encourage them to start to point and name images in familiar books you have read them.

They will begin to copy the sound of the words and the flow of the sentences. in the business we refer to this as building language skills along with pre-reading and pre-literacy skills.

Remember a parent is a child’s first educator!

As their own language increases around the age of one and a half they will mimic you and start to pretend to read books, so now is a great time to introduce thick cardboard books that they can be a little rough with. Allow them to experience the joy of turning the pages. If you are concerned about them destroying them pop into a second hand book shop or go to a garage sale and buy some second hand ones and keep their “special” ones on the shelf for when you read to them.

By the age of two and a half, three and as their language is exploding read more complex stories to them, they will follow along and ask questions as you read.

Always make it fun and interesting and if they lose interest, it may be too complex so try another time.

By the age of four they will be able to retell parts of the story, this memory recall is such an important milestone as they are retaining the information and thinking the story through.

They are able to share and retell the story which is part of getting ready for school. This is also the age where if you skip a page, they are onto you, especially if you are reading a book they have heard before. Be warned!

By the time they reach five they will be recognising some simple words so encourage them to read along with you.

We find in the preschool environment if we pause while we are reading the children love to guess what the next word is.

They can often tell from the pictures and also if they have heard the story before. This is a great pre-reading skill.

As teachers we often encourage children to act out familiar stories like 3 Billy Goats Gruff or Goldilocks and the 3 bears.

This helps them to remember and recall the story and it's loads of fun.

It also builds confidence when they are at the front of the group speaking and acting out their part. We all know how nerve racking it is to speak in front of a group, so we recommend you start young.

Here are 5 Important things to remember when reading to your child

· Make it fun and interesting

· Is the book age appropriate

· Never make it a “chore”

· Enjoy the cuddles and the intimacy that comes from snuggling up with a book

· You are giving your child the "gift" of reading, it's a LIFE skill

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