Text Size

Literacy in the classroom

Literacy for children three to five refers to the skills and abilities that begin to teach a child to read and write. Learning to read and write does not happen overnight. It is the result of many experiences beginning at birth. Many different kinds of experiences are needed, but three are essential and can be found in our classrooms.

Children need:

  • purposeful conversation among adults and other children that supports their developing language;
  • access to many different, high quality, developmentally appropriate books and other reading and writing materials; and
  • opportunities to playfully explore and engage in literacy activities involving reading, writing, and learning letters and sounds.

Simple ways to promote literacy both in the classroom and at home:

  • Talk with your child
  • Tell stories
  • Describe your actions
  • Describe your child’s actions
  • Expand words
  • Have a conversation with your child
  • Ask questions that have more than one or two word answers.

In our Early Head Start classrooms we know infant-toddler development, including communication and early literacy skills, begins before birth and unfolds over time within the context of relationships. To develop communication and early literacy skills regardless of the particular language, infants and toddlers need to hear lots of rich language and be a part of meaningful interactions. Teaching staff extend their interactions with children by describing the environment and talking about meaningful events rather than only providing directions. Also, teaching staff speak, gesture, ask questions, listen, and respond to the child in a caring ways, so that infants and toddlers may learn:

  • The purpose of communication – that their sounds and actions convey messages.
  • The process of communication - that conversation with another person involves turn-taking, listening, and speaking.
  • The rhythm and tempo of speech - that the pesed and cadence of words have meaning.
  • The sounds of speech(phonemes) - that the specific sounds are used within a language.

Quick Resources