How to Encourage Early Literacy at Home

It's never too soon to begin encouraging your child to read! Literacy skills are incredibly powerful in shaping language and communication skills in early years, and these skills can deliver benefits for a lifetime! Read on to discover how to promote early literacy growth at home, in ways both large and small.

Literacy is a person's ability to read and write, and this can include many of the skills experienced readers may take for granted, such as properly handling a book or magazine. Literacy skills can also include letter/word sight recognition, definitions, reading passage comprehension, and more!

Building literacy proficiency is the result of several developing communication skills working in tandem. Babies learn to understand the sound and rhythm of language. Infants learn to produce these words verbally and singly, and then start stringing them together into larger messages using physical articulation skills. All of these developments also work to reinforce literacy skills in later years; if some children struggle with speech and language, they may also initially struggle with reading or writing.

No matter where your child is on his or her journey to literacy, it's always a good time to get started! Here are three tips to begin developing literacy skills for your child.

  1. Use letters from the around the house -- magnets, foam, toys -- to identify and repeat letter names and sounds! You can make this part of a hunt, and even go searching for similar-sounding objects.
  2. Along with "letter hunts," you can later use multiple foam or sticker letters to differentiate between letter shapes and sounds. For example, you could place the magnets for P, I, and G on the refrigerator, and then ask, "What letter is the P?"
  3. Practice making letters in different materials, including sand or shaving cream, or even consider molding letter shapes out of Play-Doh.

Paul Rice, M.S., CCC-SLP