Literacy Development in Early Childhood
Did you know that reading and spelling are biologically secondary? This means that literacy skills must be explicitly taught, rather than effortlessly acquired. And to think some of us believe we are “naturals”!
Around 75-80% of students will be typical learners, however 15-20% of children (i.e. 4 to 6 children in a class of 30) will have learning difficulties. This means they may have trouble learning to read and spell, but can improve these skills with assistance.
One of our Speech Pathologists recently attended Speech Pathology Australia’s “Literacy in the Speech Pathology Domain: From Prevention to Intervention” and is bursting with information to share with you all! Keep reading to learn more about literacy development in early childhood and how Speech Therapy can support your child’s literacy skills.
What Are Literacy Skills?
As the first sentence highlighted, reading and spelling are skills that are learnt through explicit teaching and practice, rather than natural skills that are acquired. For this reason, it is important to provide our children with as much opportunity and exposure as possible to be able to develop the skills required for reading and writing.
Parents can expose their children to the conventions of literacy from a very early age just by reading to and with their infants and toddlers. This doesn’t mean you necessarily need to read the words on the page when they are tiny ones, however looking at the pictures and discussing what is happening is a great step.
Studies show that the children who have literacy difficulties are those who do not have books at home or parents/caregivers who do not read or class themselves as competent spellers. With this in mind, exposing your child to books early is the best thing you can do to assist them to build the foundational literacy skills required prior to entering school. Take a look at our guide to preparing your child for prep for more information on the foundational skills that will be expected when your child starts school in Australia.
The foundational literacy skills we would expect are:
- That they hold a book the correct way
- Turn the pages in the right direction
- Are aware of print and letters
These are all things that can be taught easily at home! This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be reading with your older children as well. Evidence shows that continued reading even after they have started to learn how to read is important for future success.
Why is Literacy So Important?
Low literacy levels are linked with:
- The reduced opportunity to engage with written language
- The reduced opportunity to develop adequate oral language and background knowledge.
- Academic failure which can lead to heightened risk of school disengagement and of ‘acting out’ and other behaviours. However, it can be prevented from escalating to this level through literacy interventions which will improve their overall reading and spelling skills.
What Help is Available for Literacy Challenges?
If you would like more information about literacy intervention and therapy, please do not hesitate to contact our friendly team on 1300 773 273.
We offer free 15-minute consultations where we can answer any questions that you may have and provide information about the intervention and therapy that we offer.
If you feel like this may be an area of difficulty for your child or teenager, make the call sooner rather than later so they can get back on to the road to success.