Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Exploring Literacy in Early Childhood

Welcome to a new school year! This year holds great potential for your child. Literacy is a big part of a child's life, and they will use it to navigate the world. Whether it be through reading books or signs, literacy is an important part of elementary curriculum. Throughout the school year, your child will be exploring literacy and what it means for them. To better prepare parents to foster this exploration, there are several things that may be useful to know.

[Cartoon courtesy of Ham]

1. Literacy is individual
Literacy is often though of just in the context of what a child learns in school. In reality, a child is learning to read and write from the moment they are born! Through trial and error, they experiment with language and writing to make sense of the world around them. Although that squiggle a two year old made doesn't look like language to an adult, it is actually an important part of literacy development. Writing for him/her isn't something that needs to be taught, they will seek it out themselves! As they become older, their experiences with making meaning of the literacy around them will allow them to develop sharper literacy skills.

2. Literacy is a cultural practice
Literacy is a wide topic, with no one child's literacy being the same as the next. As such, different cultures connect to different ideas and social structures. Many ethnic groups have forms of literacy that are not part of school expectations. Children will naturally connect with literacy forms that connect to their culture, status and other things that relate to their life. Exploring non-traditional texts may be beneficial to children.

3. Literacy is social
It is no surprise that developing friendships and interacting with peers is an important part of acquiring social skills, but did you know that social interactions also greatly influence literacy? When children interact with others they are sharing their experiences and adjusting according to new information. Storytelling and dramatic play are all forms of literacy that are not necessarily on paper. Dramatic play can also help a student understand a text better by giving them the opportunity to experience it. When exploring a text that a student may be struggling with, it can be beneficial to use dramatic play as a supplement.

I hope these three pieces of information has given some insight into literacy through a child's eyes. If you would like to learn more about literacy and its various forms, feel free to check the link below to an article that sums it up nicely.

Remembering Critical Lessons in Early Literacy Research: A Transactional Perspective by Kathyrn F. Whitmore, Prisca Martens, Yetta Goodman, and Gretchen Owocki.


  1. The examples you provide like the "little squiggle" really bring the research to life for readers! And what an adorable picture!

  2. 1. You really seemed to display great enthusiasm. (something definitely necessary for a successful teaching career and classroom)
    2. I like your picture!
    3. and the format you've chosen to give your information and is clear and to the point...good job!

  3. I think it is great that you made this so parent friendly! It will really work so well when presenting something like this to parents. Your examples were great and I think that they will offer great insight in parents understanding what point you are trying to make.

  4. You have the perfect blend of informative and genuine which I think is key to communication. The information is golden. I especially like the link at the bottom and what you said about learning literacy through trial and error. Lastly well I think the benefits of being genuine go without saying. Good job.

  5. Very engaging post. With a parent cap on, this looks like something that I would be interested in reading, and your picture and organized presentation make it aesthetically appealing. The visual aspect is the first way to catch someone’s attention, and through that, you are able to communicate valuable information to the parents.