Literacy can be defined as the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. The development of literacy, often referred to as early or emergent literacy, begins from birth, well before children formally learn to read, write or talk.
Teachers can provide a range of experiences that support children’s developing literacy skills and their progression towards valued learning outcomes in the early childhood setting, as well as helping to prepare them to start school. Early literacy understandings children need to develop include: strong oral language; alphabetic knowledge; phonological awareness (being aware of sounds in words); the ability to rapidly name letters, numbers, objects, and colours; the ability to write their own name; the ability to remember spoken information for a short period of time; the ability to match and discriminate visual symbols; and an understanding of print conventions and concepts.
There has been considerable research over the last 30 years into early literacy, which has identified that the stronger children’s understandings from their experiences in homes and early childhood settings are, the more readily they learn to read and write. The research is clear that early childhood teachers can make a big difference to children’s literacy development. This is particularly important for those children who may not have families who are able to offer a rich language and literacy environment in the home. There is also a growing body of research on how to assess literacy acquisition both prior to and after school entry.
Key insights from our webinar with Professor Claire McLachlan
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