Parent's Guide to Early Literacy Development

A child's ability to read and write begins to develop long before entering Kindergarten. Infancy through age eight is the most important time in a child's literacy development as they learn and develop the skills needed to be successful in school and later in life.

According to the joint position statement of the International Reading Association (IRA) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), most children learn to read at around age six or seven, some children learn to read at age five, and a few at age four. In order for children to develop healthy dispositions toward reading and literacy, experiences in the early years must engage children actively in the process of learning. Early Literacy is what children know about reading and writing before they actually read and write. Research shows that children arriving at kindergarten with the following early literacy skills are more likely to be successful in learning to read and write.

  • Vocabulary Development -- Knowing the names of things
  • Narrative Skills -- Being able to describe things, events, and tell stories
  • Letter Knowledge -- Understanding that each letter is unique and has a name and sound
  • Print Awareness -- Experience with different forms of print; knowledge of how to handle books and how to follow words across a page
  • Print Motivation -- Interest in and enjoyment from books
  • Phonological Awareness -- Ability to hear and play with the small sounds that make up words