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Early Literacy Development in Pre-Kindergarten. 

          Children attend school to learn many things, but the cornerstone of their education is learning to read. Teaching reading remains a value to all parents and educators, yet determining the best way to teach has been an ongoing debate. Over the last few decades, the research has continued to point to an intentional literacy education strategy that includes language comprehension and word recognition. The best thing a family can do to help foster literacy development in young children is read aloud together. 

          The goal of literacy education is comprehension and children achieve this final goal after taking many steps. As a parent, you can encourage practicing the hard work of learning to read, by fostering a love to reading through reading quality literature together. 

Phonemic Awareness

          Phonemic Awareness is understanding the individual phonemes (sounds) in a word. Children have achieved phonemic awareness when they are able to notice, think about and manipulate sounds in spoken language. This includes skills such as isolating sounds, segmenting words into individual sounds, blending sounds into full words and identifying and substituting individual sounds to make new words. 


What is it? 

Why is it important? 

         Developing a strong skill set of phonemic awareness allows children to concentrate their attention on the meaning of a reading passage, rather than decoding individual words. In short, phonemic awareness aids reading comprehension, the goal of all reading. 

         Teaching phonemic awareness is most effective when children are taught to manipulate sounds using the alphabet. Specifically, in young children, this is best in songs, rhymes and poems. Research has shown that this skill is developed best when taught systematically, not opportunistically. 

How teach it? 

Fluency & Comprehension

          Fluency is achieved when a reader can decode text automatically, they require no conscious attention to individual words. This then allows a reader to focus on the meaning of the text, which leads to stronger comprehension. The 5 pillars of fluency are describe below. 

What is it? 

Why is it important? 

       Comprehension is the goal of reading and being a fluent reader does not equal comprehension. However, fluency is the bridge to comprehension. 

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How teach it? 

        As a student has mastered the early levels of literacy development, specifically, phonemic awareness and phonics (connecting the sounds of phonemes to letters on the printed page), automaticity is the next goal.  Automaticity can be defined as the  fast and effortless recognition of individual letters and words in isolation. When word recognition becomes more automatic and children can apply these decoding skills rapidly to more words, fluency is introduced. The best way to teach fluency is through repeated practice. 

Pillars of Fluency

Reads Connected to Text Accurately

Multiple sentences relate to each other, students quickly recognize words and monitor comprehension.

Basal readers and controlled text are helpful in this stage. 

Attends to Punctuation

Punctuation at the early stage is period (.) comma (,) and exclamation point (!).

Model self-correction in read-aloud stories. 

Allow a child to practice. 

Reads with Prosody (prose, diction)

Expression and appropriate diction adds to meaning.

Taught through modeling and discussion of text. "How would that sound if he is scared?"

Reads Quickly - Adheres to target WPM

Words Per Minute targets are formulas to understand appropriate speed standards for students. Too fast or too slow can inhibit meaning and comprehension. 

Continual monitoring of student speed of reading is valuable, it is not beneficial to increase speed in lieu of comprehension.

Sounds Like Student is Speaking

Reading needs to sound like talking to allow for cognitive focus on comprehension! 

How can I best help my child be a skilled reader? 

Read Together!!!

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Adventures and Experiences. 
 It is hard to comprehend something you have never experienced.

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Resources, References and More Information

Brief overview of Scarborough's Reading Rope

Activities and understanding with phonemic (and phonological) awareness for families.

5 Big Ideas of Early Literacy - University of Oregon 

YouTube Fluency Video

National Reading Panel Report

Liben, D & Liben, M (2019). Know better, do better. Teaching the foundations so every child can read. Learning Sciences International.

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