Introduction Emergent literacy encompasses language and literacy development that begins in infancy and continues through the time children begin school. This perspective recognizes and examines the intuitive logic that young

Introduction Emergent literacy encompasses language and literacy development that begins in infancy and continues through the time children begin school. This perspective recognizes and examines the intuitive logic that young children use to acquire language and to develop knowledge about reading and writing. It perceives literacy development as a continuum that begins early in life and is ongoing. The Foundation for Literacy: Oral Language The base for emergent literacy is oral language. As infants, children hear and imitate the sounds of adult talk around them. They begin to understand and react to people’s facial expressions and relate words to meanings. They also explore their world and learn about it through sensory contact and physical manipulation of materials or items. Adults’ modeling of speech through conversations, varied experiences, and play s to develop children’s language. Reading to children introduces them to an understanding of how books and reading work. This experience can also nurture a love of reading. The Development of Language, Reading, and Writing At ages two and three, children often pretend to read as they point to and name parts of pictures and the actions they see in them. They also begin to recognize environmental print such as logos on items and signs that they see regularly. At this time as well, children begin scribble writing, making marks on paper that represent a message or a story. Gradually, children’s language, writing, and reading are refined through continued verbal interactions, as well as through experiences with play, with stories, and with writing. A four-year-old child’s verbal sentences are longer and the syntax is more like that of an adult. Scribble writing includes some recognizable letters and children write words, although the letters may be randomly chosen for the word. For example, BPA may represent the word dog. Children recognize environmental print and enjoy songs, rhymes, stories, and games that play with language. They may recognize some alphabet letters. By kindergarten, children have acquired considerable listening vocabulary and knowledge about reading, particularly if they have had consistent opportunities since infancy to talk with adults, listen to and read stories, write, and engage in imaginative play. Many know at least some alphabet letters and are able to print their name. Some can write a label or a sentence for a picture. During the kindergarten year, children’s spellings and writing change and become more conventional as they engage in varied activities involving environmental print, phonemic awareness, phonics, sight words, and writing. Phonological Awareness and Phonemic Awareness Reading aloud to children, working with environmental print, and providing daily opportunities to write are activities that can bring children to reading. They significantly facilitate children’s understanding of the reading process, of concepts of print, and of sounds in the words they speak. They develop awareness that print has meaning, that one reads a page or a book in a certain way, and that words are composed of a sequence of sounds. In particular, when children write, they apply the sounds of words, as well as the words that they have learned to recognize on sight (e.g., stop or the). They then read their writing and perhaps publish it for others to read, thus using writing as a road to reading. Motivation to read and write and increased awareness of the sounds of words and letters are benefits of this process. Of great significance is the fact that writing aids the development and the reinforcement of phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, and phonics. Morrow (2005) describes phonological awareness as an understanding “of the sound structure of language” (p. 132), the ability to auditorily identify and manipulate words, syllables, onsets, and rimes. Recognizing rhyming words, playing with alliteration, and segmenting and blending the initial and ending parts of words (onsets and rimes) are activities that develop phonological knowledge. Phonemic awareness is part of phonological awareness. It deals with the ability to auditorily recognize that words consist of a sequence of sounds or phonemes. Children may auditorily identify, isolate, categorize, substitute, segment, and blend sounds in words. Instruction in phonological and phonemic awareness is purposeful but also playful as children have fun singing rhyming songs, creating their own words to rhyme with words in a story, or changing parts of words in a game. It is easiest for children to start with whole words or large parts of words and then to work with smaller parts. It is essential to children’s early reading success that they work with phonological and phonemic awareness prior to and along with phonics and other strategies such as using context. Phonics Phonics differs from phonological and phonemic awareness in that its focus is not purely auditory. Phonics connects letter sounds (phonemes) with letter symbols (graphemes) in print. Children learn to connect the 26 letters of the English alphabet with at least 44 different sounds. Phonics is taught systematically and explicitly, usually beginning with initial consonants, then final consonants, short vowels, long vowels, consonant clusters, consonant digraphs, and vowel variations. To facilitate children’s acquisition and application of phonics, it is critical that they have substantial practice in reading decodable texts and repetitive, patterned, and easy level stories and that they continue to do extended writing daily. Also, because every word in English does not lend itself to decoding, children also must learn sight words, the use of context, and structural analysis elements such as prefixes, suffixes, and syllabication. Conclusion The notion of emergent literacy has significance for instruction. Teachers who work from an emergent literacy perspective provide experiences and settings that build on the knowledge and skills that their students bring with them to school. They nurture the developmental process by immersing children in print through read-alouds and shared reading. In addition, they work with their class and with small groups on phonemic awareness, phonics, sight words, and other reading skills. Teachers demonstrate or model new skills and concepts and support children as they work toward independent use of new information. Objects and places in the room are labeled, and there are word walls related to stories and units with which children are working. There are also centers where children can read, write, and role-play. Children’s pictures and stories are displayed in the classroom. Literacy permeates a classroom’s setting and experiences. References Morrow, L. (2005). Literacy development in the early years. Boston: Pearson Education. You are preparing a workshop for parents that focuses on literacy activities they can do with their child that develop reading and writing. Create a PowerPoint presentation of no less than 10-15 slides that discusses the rationale for specific activities that you recommend.

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