ABC and 123: A Look Closer at Early Literacy

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Look Closer at Early Literacy

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We, as parents and our children's very first teachers, can begin to support early literacy development as soon as our kiddos are born. Many of us do this already and don't even realize how much we are helping to build a solid foundation of learning for our children.


Talking our way through diaper changes and feedings, through trips to the park or the grocery store, we give our little ones their first unwritten lessons on language and learning. By reading books, reciting rhymes, and playing games with our toddlers, we take this learning a step further, and the possibilities for sneaking in lessons here and there are endless.

I thought I'd provide ABC and 123 readers with a list of Literacy Terms That Every Parent Needs to Know as their children approach reading and step into preschool. This list is hardly complete, but it includes the basics without the Reading Teacher jargon that is sometimes tough to get through. In the next few weeks and months, I'll spotlight these topics and more in greater detail and provide ways that parents can support their children's learning in these areas.

Literacy Terms Every Parent Needs To Know:

  • Comprehension: a complex process in which a reader interacts with a text in a specific context in order to construct meaning. Specific comprehension strategies should be taught and can be taught even before a child can read. Such strategies include making connections, questioning, visualizing, inferring, determining importance, and synthesizing.
  • Decoding: the process of figuring out a new word in a text. It's really just deciphering text into understandable words.
  • Fluency: the ability to read orally with speed, accuracy, and expression while comprehending a given text.
  • High Frequency Words: are the words that appear most often in texts. Thanks to Drs. Dolch and Frye, we have age-leveled lists of these words beginning from the simplest in Kindergarten to the more difficult in upper grades.
  • Phonological Awareness: the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate sound units in words. It is one component of a comprehensive reading program and the precursor to solid literacy development.
  • Phonemic Awareness: one component of phonological awareness. The ability to hear, identify, and manipulate the individual sounds in spoken words.
  • Phonics: an approach to teaching word identification that emphasizes letter-sound correspondences and their application to reading and spelling. The goal of phonics is to help children learn and apply the alphabetic principle--the understanding that there are systematic and predictable relationships between written letters and spoken words.
  • Sight Words: are words that do not often follow phonics rules, so emerging readers should learn them 'by sight' in order to read them quickly and accurately.
  • Vocabulary: a term used to describe the words that one must know in order to communicate with others, both orally and through print.
Want to have this sheet handy? Want to learn a little more?
Feel free to download the Literacy Terms We All Need to Know as a pdf to use as an easy reference. It includes these definitions, some in more detail, along with a few other words to know.

Check out teachmama under 'reading' for more info on these terms or just be sure to look for my posts every other week here at ABC and 123. Happy Reading!

1 comment:

  1. That's really good information. My sister is also a reading specialist, and just directed me to a Dolch website where she has lists of sight words. I'm going to begin working on them with my 4 year old soon.

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