Literacy in the Early Years

By Amanda Bertschinger,

  Filed under: ELC

Literacy typically refers to reading and writing skills. Literacy skills that are developed during the early years of a child’s life can help them in being successful later on in school. Spending time reading with children from an early age helps them develop a solid foundation for literacy.

At St John’s Grammar in the Four-Year-Old program we plan a range of experiences, activities and play scenarios to integrate language and literacy learning across a range of foci. We offer a range of practices that the children are involved in that are almost ‘hidden’ literacy developing opportunities.

Educators can maximise early literacy opportunities in play by providing physical and social support systems that embed literacy related challenges into play, such as adding literacy materials to the areas where children engage in play; supplying props and provocations that encourage children to act out roles; promote social interactions during play or using books to introduce ideas.

In the Mussared building, our four and five year olds have access to all manner of opportunities that promote a strong foundation of skills:

Phonological awareness – sound and letter combinations in words

  • Identifying initial sounds using miniature objects to entice
  • Pegging objects on picture cards that rhyme
  • Posting objects that rhyme into tiny cardboard houses
  • Clapping sounds (syllables) using small toys and figures as inspiration
  • Transition from group times using names that rhyme or start with a specific sound
  • Vast library of rhyming books, alliteration stories and picture books

Visual discrimination – this helps define subtle differences such as comparing the letters a, b, p, d, q or w, v, y, m, n

  • Puzzles
  • Sorting letters with different fonts
  • Concept grids
  • Number detective – matching numerals to isolate the missing number
  • Montessori Colour Boxes isolate variations of tones

Letter recognition

  • Montessori Sandpaper Letters and Moveable Alphabet
  • Name recognition and writing (tracing to sign in of a morning, using the Interactive Whiteboard, gluing names on our work, adding your name to the bread and butter list, name cards)
  • Leaving group time when recognising the initial letter of your name on the Interactive Whiteboard

Pre-writing skills – developing fine motor control and pencil grip

  • Montessori Insets
  • Monkey Bars (writing starts from the shoulder girdle)
  • Practical Life Trays that offer fine motor activities such as spooning, tweezers, tonging, screwing, zipper opening etc.
  • Painting and drawing using a variety of tools and mediums
  • Building and construction materials such as Mobilo, Duplo, K-Nex
  • Manipulating play-doh and clay
  • Cooking activities

Language acquisition

  • Role-play scenarios
  • Group time discussions
  • Range of texts and songs, rhymes and action games
  • Social interactions and group games

Wow, these are just some examples of an exhaustive collection of ideas we incorporate when ‘Preparing’ the environment at the ELC.

While literacy activity in play situations may not focus on getting things right in a conventional sense, it does provide opportunity for getting better at it – for bringing the complexities of literacy more fully into the compass of young children’s minds.

Kate Burns