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Learn about Early Literacy skills for children

Early Literacy

According to the National Research Council, the following six literacy skills benefit children when they enter school with a foundation for reading instruction. Emergent Literacy can be defined as how young children interact with books and when reading and writing, even though they could not reead or write in the conventional sense ( 

The Sandbox of the Six Early Literacy Skills


This graphic represents the six Early Literacy skills that children need to learn.



 1.  Print Motivation is helping a child find interest as well as enjoyment in reading.

  • As you and your child read today, have them turn the pages of the book.
  • When reading to your child, try to act out a different voice for one or more of the characters.
  • Take a trip tot he library and have your child explore reading materials.


2.  Print Awareness helps a child understand that print has a place in all areas of their life.  It also helps a child understand how a book is held and the ability to understand how they should follow the words on the page.

  • As you and your child are out today, play the "I-Spy" game with them.  For example, say "I Spy something that starts with the letter 'B'." 
  • As you begin reading a book to your child, help them understand the orientation of the book.  For example, you could point to both the title and the author. 
  • When reading something to your child, work with him or her to point to the words on the page.


3.  Letter Knowledge is the skill that allows a child to understand that a letter can look different.  Letters can have names and are related to sounds. 

  • Create an alphabet chart with your child and use the chart to locate different letters in the story.
  • As your child plays with their toys, point out to them the different shapes that they are playing with.
  • Use magnetic letters and have your child spell or say their names.
  • For a fun project, use pudding or shaving cream and practice with your child on how they spell their name.


4.  Vocabulary is the understanding and knowledge of names of things, feelings, concepts, and ideas.

  • When reading with your child, have them tell you what a character in the story is feeling. 
  • The next time you visit the library, help your child choose several nonfiction books to learn concepts.


5.  Phonological Awareness is one's ability to both hear and play with the sounds of words.

  • Ask your child to write down their name.  Then, clap out the syllables of their name with them.
  • Stop by the library, or locate your own poems, and go over words that rhyme with your child.


6.  Narrative Skills are the ability to express ideas through storytelling.  It is the ability to describe things, putting events in chronological order, and being able to retell a particular story.

  • Create some props with your child and retell a story, acting out the characters with those props.
  • Encourage your child to tell them about your day.