Language and Literacy Development in Preschool Children
Long before a child begins to speak, he is already communicating with the world around him. From a very young age, a baby knows that a cry will draw a parent’s attention and that holding out his arms means “pick me up".
And long before a child learns to read and write, he has already embarked on the path to literacy. Playing with a book, pointing to a sign or scribbling on a piece of paper – all of these are signs of emergent literacy.
Research shows that when adults create rich language and literacy environments and respond to a preschool child’s communication in specific ways, they can boost that child’s emergent language and literacy development and increase the likelihood of future academic success. And the adults with the greatest potential to help are the most important ones in that child’s life: his parents and caregivers, including child care providers and early childhood educators (ECEs).
Whether a child is developing typically or has a language delay, there is so much that parents and educators can do to promote not only his language and early literacy development, but to encourage him to be an active, confident communicator. They can, for example, help build his vocabulary and use of language, which supports problem-solving, and the ability to use one’s imagination – all of which are fundamental to the kind of sophisticated language a child needs to succeed in school.
And the good news is that parents and educators can do this without having to carve out new time in their day. Simply by tweaking the way they interact with children during everyday conversations, routines and activities, parents and educators can foster the strong language and literacy skills that are so essential for lifelong social and academic success.
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