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Children's ability to read and write words depends on their ability to listen to and use language. Helping your child develop strong communication and language skills will go a long way to helping them develop literacy skills. However, they also need to be taught some specific skills. The 3 best predictors of literacy success are:

  1. Print awareness (awareness of how printed materials are used)
  2. Phonological awarenss (awarenss patterns in speech sounds), and
  3. Emergent writing (awarenss of how writing works)

By kindergarten, children are expected to have the following literacy skills:

  • Identify the front cover, back cover, and title page of a book
  • For English readers/writers, follow words from left to right and from top to bottom on the printed page
  • Understand that written words have meaning and that books convey information and stories
  • Recognize that sentences in print are made of separate words
  • Recognize and write letters of the alphabet
  • Sound out letters and some words

Any opportunities you provide for reading and writing with your child will help them tremendously. There are many easy and fun ways to help your child learn literacy skills like the ones mentioned above. For example:

  • Take time to talk about the different part of the book. Show your child which side is the cover and which is the back. Point out the title and the name of the author. Help your child turn the pages in order so he/she learns what direction the story and the words go.
  • Follow along with the words and sentences in the book with your finger as you read. This gives your child a cue about which words go with what you're saying and what order they appear.
  • Ask your child questions to see if they understand what's happening in the book.
  • Ask your child to make guesses, for example, about what will happen next in the book, or, what a character might be feeling. Being able to make good guesses is part of an important skill called inferencing.
  • Play games with letters and let your child hear the sounds they make. Introducing letters in a fun way naturally encourages your child's learning.
  • Take time to explain new words. Explain new vocabulary by making connections to words that are already familiar to the child.

Video: Storybook Reading

(From the North East Florida Educational Consortium, retrieved from

Video: Phonological Awareness

(From the North East Florida Educational Consortium, retrieved from

Video: Emergent Writing

(From the North East Florida Educational Consortium, retrieved from



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