Year One – Post 20 | Beginning Reading Skills
A child progresses through three stages – emergent, early and conventional literacy development – as he is learning to read. Here is an explanation of emergent literacy, which is the first stage of reading development that your baby and toddler will experience.
Emergent literacy includes the following skills, all of which are precursors to actually learning to read:
- Your child is learning a sound system in his native language and combining these sounds into words. These words can be real objects (e.g. table, car) or abstract concepts (e.g. feelings, prepositions, etc.) – and they continue for a lifetime. Adding sounds to words may change the meaning (e.g. “s” for plural “books”) or provide the correct grammar (e.g. “I look.” “He looks.”).
- Words must be in a special order to make meaningful sentences. Your child uses his background experiences to expand his vocabulary and increase his conversational skills so that he can tell his own stories. He asks questions and learns cause-and-effect to fine tune his reasoning skills.
- When you read to your child, he begins to understand that a book needs to be upright; he also discovers that you turn the pages of a book and that there are letters inside that represent words. When you point to the words as you read in his storybooks, he understands that sentences are read from left to right and that you start at the top and go to the bottom of the page. Reading provides enjoyment – he is motivated by the story content, and he has favorite books that he wants you to read.
- Hearing rhyming words in the stories you read has made him aware of the small sound differences in words. This area is very important because it is one of the building blocks for establishing phonological skills for reading readiness. If your child is not able to hear the differences in sounds, his speech and reading skills will be delayed in development. A child who has trouble learning the sound system of language and fails to recognize differences in sounds may be diagnosed with a phonological disorder. For example, the sounds /k/and /t/ may not be recognized as having different meanings, so “call” and “tall” might both be pronounced and understood as “tall.” This would also make it difficult for your child to read and spell words.
Pick books that are colorful, include rhymes, and have short sentences and a plot with a predictable outcome. Learning to read is a very important skill that your child will use for a lifetime. It is important that you talk and read to your child on a daily basis. Refer to the My Baby Compass, Birth to Two, Two to Four and Four to Sevenfor a list of recommended books to read to your child.
– Kathryn Thorson Gruhn, MA CCC-SLP, author of My Baby Compass series