Literacy is Everywhere

Literacy includes talking, listening, visual literacies such as viewing and drawing, and critical thinking — not just reading and writing. In addition, the literacies of technology (e.g. computer games and activities, internet searching, faxes, emails), popular culture (e.g. movies, theatre, and arts), functional literacy (e.g. road maps, timetables), ecological literacy (especially for Indigenous groups) and literacies other than English are relevant to the lives of young children today.

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One of the most important ways in which educators can promote children’s literacy learning is by creating, with the children and their families, a learning environment in which literacy is purposefully used and discussed.

Our classrooms are full of print, images and other symbols used for a wide range of purposes that are both adult- and child-initiated, some things you many see include:

  • Favourite and new books invitingly displayed
  • Songs and rhymes written on posters and accessible to children
  • Plans for the day written with the children and displayed on a wall or easel
  • Children’s collections of objects labelled, e.g. a collection of shells
  • A clock referred to as part of the daily routines
  • Personal name-cards easily accessible to the children
  • Notices and messages written collaboratively with children for families and visitors, incorporating the children’s ideas
  • Signs, labels, menus, tickets, price tags, shopping lists written with the children during their dramatic play
  • Writing materials and cardboard, paper, and so on accessible to children in easily portable boxes to use during play

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What can parents do at home to help children’s literacy development for babies and toddlers?

Talk: Talk with them about everyday experiences and what is happening around them, including explaining what is happening during routine activities such as feeding, bathing and nappy changing.

Sing: Sing songs and say poems and rhymes. Go back to basics… old school nursery rhymes are wonderful!

Read: Provide simple and sturdy books for children to explore on their own. Look at books with the children and talk about the pictures.

Awareness: Point out signs, pictures and logos. Older babies and toddlers often enjoy ‘spotting’ familiar images that relate to things they have seen in books or on television.

Role model: Show children that you enjoy reading with them, and make this a special time for cuddles and one-to-one time. Reading stories can become a part of settling routines such as arriving to school, before rest time or when waking up.

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What can parents do at home to help children’s literacy development for preschool children?

Write: Write in front of children and explain what and why you are writing such as letters, lists, planning and other documentation

Read: Encourage children to “read” their own books, signs in the environment. Read books every day and discuss the illustrations and context of the story. Ask questions such as “what do you think will happen next?” Explore both quality factual and story books. Explain the difference between and author and an illustrator.

Talk: Encourage children to create their own stories, talk about memories and experiences, and create oral stories.

Sing: Sing songs, read poems and play with rhyme. Have music on in the background as you spend time on other activities in your home

Draw & Create: Provide rich and high quality drawing and writing materials to encourage children to develop their fine motor skills as well as representational skills. Talk to children about their ideas and work

Discuss: Promote enthusiastic discussions about the environment, relationships, interests, ideas, thinking and theories of the world. Ask open ended thought provoking questions that challenge thinking and language.

Value: Value literacy and demonstrate to children how to use this respectfully.

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