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preschooler with picture book

Early Literacy Development

Goals for Preschool: Awareness and Exploration

Children go through phases of reading development from preschool through third grade — from exploration of books to independent reading. In preschool, children explore their environment and build the foundations for learning to read and write. Find out what parents and teachers can do to support preschool literacy skills.

In preschool, children explore their environment and build the foundations for learning to read and write.

Children can:

  • Enjoy listening to and discussing storybooks
  • Understand that print carries a message
  • Engage in reading and writing attempts
  • Identify labels and signs in their environment
  • Participate in rhyming games
  • Identify some letters and make some letter-sound matches
  • Use known letters or approximations of letters to represent written language (especially meaningful words like their name and phrases such as “I love you”)

What teachers do:

  • Share books with children, including Big Books, and model reading behaviors
  • Talk about letters by name and sounds
  • Establish a literacy-rich environment
  • Reread favorite stories
  • Engage children in language games
  • Promote literacy-related play activities
  • Encourage children to experiment with writing

What parents and family members can do:

  • Talk with children, engage them in conversation, give names of things, show interest in what a child says
  • Read and reread stories with predictable text to children
  • Encourage children to recount experiences and describe ideas and events that are important to them
  • Visit the library regularly
  • Provide opportunities for children to draw and print, using markers, crayons, and pencils
Excerpted from: Learning to Read and Write: Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Young Children, part 4: Continuum of Children’s Development in Early Reading and Writing. (May, 1998) A joint position of the International Reading Association (IRA) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Young Children position statement (full-text PDF) (opens in a new window).
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