Fostering Literacy Development in Young Children
In the modern society, words are everywhere. They are on signs, labels, in books, on computer screens, TVs, advertisements, and many other materials that exist within the immediate environment. It is because of this that young children are aware of words and letters even if they cannot yet comprehend the respective meanings. Young children can often recognize such environmental print as a stop sign, or certain labels, or product brand names, prior to them being able to read (Melzi & Ely 2009; Whitehurst & Lonigan 1998). This awareness and recognition is known as emergent literacy. According to the Bank Street Guide to Literacy website (2001), there are four main stages to achieving literacy: Emergent Early Early Fluent Fluent. The earliest stage, emergent literacy, consists of the awareness of the written language and the ‘skills, knowledge, and attitudes that are the precursors to reading and writing’ (Whitehurst and Lonigan, 1998: 848). Yet literacy, unlike spoken language, does not just ‘happen’. It must be learnt and children must be guided in both reading and writing. For parents to foster literacy interest in children, there are two areas that should be paid attention to: environment and practice. The environment is central to a child’s learning ability, and creating one where children have easy access to literature of various forms will generally have a positive influence on their ability to acquire literacy skills (Melzi & Eli 2009; Roskos & Neuman 2001; Whitehurst & Lonigan 1998; Xue, & Meisels 2004). A living space that is filled with resources, such as word and picture posters, children’s books, toys or games with educational purposes is an ideal environment for emergent reader/ writers, and one that is conducive to expanding a child’s interest in developing their existing skills further. Not only do they begin to recognize words holistically (Xue, & Meisels, 2004), but as...
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