Letters, letters everywhere. One of the best ways to encourage the emerging literacy of young pre-readers is to surround them with the letters of the alphabet. At home, put magnetic letters on the refrigerator. Buy puzzles and toys with letter-based themes. Have plenty of storybooks in the home that encourage recitation and recognition of letters and words.
As we explain in our book, Flourishing
in the First Five Years: Connecting Implications from Mind, Brain, and
Education Research to the Development of Young Children,
classrooms are particularly great places to post the letters of the
alphabet, both upper- and lowercase, with corresponding pictures.
Teachers can reinforce these connections with regular group recitations
(“A” is for “Apple,” “B” is for “Banana,” “C” is “Cat,” etc.). There are
opportunities all around the room to place different forms of
print—labeling various items by their name—i.e., table, chair, toy
box—and labeling children’s cubbies with their names.
also can display wall stories, labeled murals, and word displays.
Children in classrooms such as these spontaneously use almost twice as
much print in their play as those not exposed to a print-rich
environment. Print environments are effective in encouraging reading as
well as the earliest stages of writing.
of these methods are consistent with what Cambourne calls the immersion
theory of learning, which provides multiple opportunities for students
to experience visual saturation of print and text and oral saturation of
the sounds of written language. Cambourne recommends several immersion
strategies, including making functional use of wall print through what
he called “print walks” and also supporting a variety of reading
experiences, such as the teacher reading aloud, sustained silent
reading, shared reading, taped books, and choral reading of such text as
poems, rhymes, and songs from wall print.
shows that print-rich environments in child-care centers make an
important contribution to a child’s interest in learning to read. In the
book, we cite educators who advocate the use of literacy-related play
areas. For instance, if the room features a play kitchen or restaurant,
props such as memo pads, recipes, and cookbooks can help children
incorporate print into their everyday playtime interactions (Strickland,
Fortunately, it’s easy to help children take
heed of print whenever you go out and about. When you go to the mall or
shopping plaza with your young children and grandchildren, point out the
letters on the shop signs and advertising placards. And encourage them
to point out letters and words as well. Soon, recognizing words and
letters will become as second nature to them as walking and talking.
Cambourne, B. (2001). Conditions for literacy learning: Turning learning theory into classroom instruction. A minicase study. The Reading Teacher, 54(4), 414–429.
D. S., Morrow, M., Neuman, S. C., Roskos, K., Schickedanz, J. A., &
Vukelich, C. (2004). The role of literacy in early childhood. The Reading Teacher, 58(1), 86–100.