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Early Literacy

What is Literacy?

  • Receptive language

    • listening

    • hearing

    • understanding others

  • Expressive language

    • body language

      • gestures

      • facial expressions

    • speech

      • phonetics

      • grammar

      • syntax


Literacy is Socially and

Culturally Created

  • We learn to speak with others in our environment

  • Different cultures have different ways of using receptive and expressive language

  • Research shows environments rich in literacy (books, magazines, signs, labels, print, and technology) help children learn language faster


Literacy and Play

  • Children make sense of their environment through play

  • Children learn the precursors to reading well before formal schooling

  • Pretending to read a menu, writing a scribbled food order, and handing you a bill are all examples of literacy play

  • These are crucial skills children must learn

3, 8

Literacy at Home


  • Language milestones (link)

  • Visit the library

  • Read books and model how to use them

  • Explain signs in your neighbourhood

  • Provide writing tools, such as crayons, paper, pencils, paint

  • Show an interest in the alphabet

  • Let children choose what they would like to read

4, 5, 6, 9

Literacy in Early

Childhood Programs

  • Provide learning environments rich in multiple literacies

    • areas for books, art, dance, pretend play, music, and problem-solving

    • one-on-one, small group, and large group activities

  • Screen children for possible delays in development

4, 10

Literacy and Technology

  • Research recommends children under the age of 2 have no screen time

  • Research is showing an alarming trend of children not meeting their developmental milestones due to excessive screen time

  • Provide opportunities to develop literacy using technology meaningfully, intentionally, and positively

7, 11



  • Alberta Health Services, Early Childhood Division

  • Audiologist (hearing test)

  • Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP)

  • General Practitioner (family doctor)


Nilsen, B.A. (2017). Week by week: Plans for documenting children's development (7th ed.). Boston: Cengage Learning.


Durán, L. (2018). Understanding Young Children's Everyday Biliteracy: "Spontaneous" and "Scientific" Influences on Learning. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy. 18 (1). 71-96.


Saracho, O.N. & Spodek, B. (2006). Young Children's Literacy-Related Play. Early Child Development and Care 176 (6). 707-721.


International Reading Association (IRA) & National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). (1998). Learning to read and write: Developmentally appropriate practices for young children. A joint position statement of the International Reading Association (IRA) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The Reading Teacher, 52, 193-216


Neumann, M.M., Hood, M., Ford, R.M., & Neumann, D.L. (2011). The Role of Environmental Print in Emergent Literacy.  Journal of Early Childhood Literacy. 12 (3). 231-258.


Long, S. (2004). Passionless Text and Phonics First: Through a Child's Eyes. Language Arts, 81 (5). 417-426.


Neumann, M.M. & Neumann, D.L. (2013). Touch Screen Tablets and Emergent Literacy. Early Childhood Education Journal. 42. 231-239.


Weigel, D.J., Martin, S.S., & Bennett, K.K. (2005). Ecological influences of the home and the child-care center on preschool-age children's literacy development. Reading Research Quarterly. 40 (2). 204-233.


Lukie, I.K., Skwarchuk, S-L., LeFevre, J-A., & Sowinski, C. (2013). The Role of Child Interests and Collaborative Parent-Child Interactions in Fostering Numeracy and Literacy Development in Canadian Homes. Early Childhood Education Journal. 42. 254-259


International Literacy Association. (2018). What effective Pre-K literacy instruction looks like. Retrieved from


Flewitt, R., Messer, D., & Kucirkova, N., (2015). New Directors for Early Literacy in a Digital Age: The iPad. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy. 15 (3). 289-310.


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