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Identifying, Encouraging and Developing an Early Love of Literacy

Updated on December 28, 2012

Developing Phonemic Awareness

Training your child to hear variations in sound, and patterning in language is as simple as a game of rhyme. Expose your child to the traditional "Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes," or engage them in a rhyme game on a long car trip. One of our favorite family traditions has become playing a rhyme game around the table during our Thanksgiving dinner.

Encourage your child to become an effective listener. On your daily strolls to the park, ask them to identify or mimic the various sounds produced in nature. Invite your child to identify beginning, middle and ending sounds in words.

The more trained your ear becomes; the simpler it will be to transfer these skills into pre-emergent writing.

Phonics Instruction

During the stage of phonics instruction, you will be introducing or reinforcing letter and sound association. Fancy programs are not necessary in order to provide phonics instruction. Begin with self-made or store-bought alphabet flashcards. Begin by holding up each card and modeling (producing) each letter name and the sound associated with it.

Do a web-search for free online games or apps for your tablets that reinforce letter name and sound recognition.

Use your household as a resource. If you are focusing on a particular letter of the day or week, have your child use newspapers or magazines to cut out upper and lowercase versions of the letter in various fonts. Create a collage with these letters and pictures of items beginning with the letter sound.

One of my favorite rainy day activities is cooking spaghetti and then letting my children use a placemat or cutting board to fashion the spaghetti into letters. Encourage them to make words!

These are just some of many ideas to help promote phonemic awareness.

Print-Rich Household

Children can display an inclination towards reading at a very young age, from the moment that they grasp a book between their hands. Your child may illustrate this love when they rush for their favorite book ahead of a beloved toy.

Families, who model reading and have a print-rich household, have a greater chance of passing on the love of reading to their child. A print-rich household will contain books of various genres, magazines, and newspapers. The members of the household will often be viewed curled up on the sofa reading, thumbing through a newspaper; catching up on the latest headlines or writing a letter, or message to a loved one.


You will know your child is ready for some formal reading instruction, when they are able to handle a book appropriately. Your child is able to hold the book open in the correct direction, and turn pages accordingly. Children will also be able to re-tell familiar stories, by simply looking at the book's illustrations. If your child is frequently read to, they may even have a slight idea of how to track. Meaning, they are able to follow text from left to right, and top to bottom

Pre-Reading Instruction

As a former kindergarten teacher, I can tell you how easily it is to teach a child how to read when they have what is referred to as basic Concepts about Print. These concepts include the ability to identify the basic components of the book (spine, front/back cover, and title page).

As soon as your child has demonstrated some of these basic concepts, it is an excellent idea to begin phonics and phonemic awareness, if you have not done so already. Phonemic Awareness is the ability to hear distinct sounds in a language, whereas Phonics is when you take this auditory knowledge and now associate it to a written letter.


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