Early Literacy

The 10 most important elements of Early Literacy:

1. Oral Language Development

Talking to young children and using interesting, engaging and specific vocabulary .

Oral language development is one of the strongest elements that influence a child’s early reading. Since the precursor to reading is speaking, the more words a child is exposed to and knows how to use while speaking, the more words she or he will be able to recognize when learning to read.

For example, a child who is spoken to with whole, complete sentences and are given definitions when they don’t recognize what a word means, has a greater chance of early literacy success than the child who is spoken to in short, ‘yes and no’ statements and a small vocabulary.

What this basically means is that your chatty child intuitively knows what’s best and they will be supported by hearing a whole bouquet of interesting and descriptive words.

2. Phonological/Phonemic Awareness

Phonological and phonemic awareness refers, in part, to the ability to hear and connect the sounds in words.

Some elements of phonics and phonemic awareness are:

  • onset/rime (the initial and final sound in a word, ie: r/u/n)
  • changing a sound in a word to create a new word (fun/run)
  • hearing the same sound at the beginning of a word (ball/bat)

3. Letter Knowledge

What do children know about the letters of the alphabet? Do they know that there are 26 letters? Do they know the difference between upper case and lower case? Do they know that some letters make the same sounds, for example, the letter ‘c’ can sound like /k/ or /s/, and ‘g’ can sound like /j/?

Some other important elements of letter knowledge are:

  • alphabetical order
  • consonants and vowels
  • letter forms (each letter has a unique shape)
  • special uses of letters, such as abbreviations, and capital letters for names

4. Letter/Sound Relationships

Knowing the relationship between each letter and the sound it makes is an important element of early literacy.

Once a child knows the sound each letter makes, then letter/sound combinations (also called ‘clusters’) can be made, such as: /bl/, /cr/, /st/ and so on…

‘Blends’ are also a form of letter/sound combinations, but instead of 2 consonants, blends are a vowel/consonant combination, such as: /ad/, /en/, /ot/, etc.

A complete list of  letter/sound clusters and blends will be available in the Teaching Tips section soon.

5. Spelling Patterns

Knowledge of spelling patterns in words can make reading faster and easier for beginning readers.

Some examples of spelling patterns are:

  • chunks (/ack/, /end/, /ill/)
  • word endings ( /ed/, /ing/, /es/)
  • conventional spelling (C/V/C consonant/vowel/consonant)

When children begin to understand that letters can be put together in different patterns, they will begin to see these patterns for themselves, and become more independent readers.

6. High Frequency/Sight Words

High Frequency Words and Sight Words are not exactly interchangeable terms. The basic idea is that these are the first sets of words that children should become familiar with at the beginning of their journey through literacy.

There exist several different types of High Frequency/Sight Word lists, with Dolce Sight Words being one of the most common. These different kinds of lists contain many of the same words, and since one of the goals of reading is fluency, any list will do, since children will need to learn to read all the words eventually.

Click on a list below to get an instant Word Document download.

Dolce 50 Sight Words

Dolce Preprimer Sight Words

Dolce Primer

Dolce First Grade

Dolce Second Grade

Dolce Third Grade

Fry’s First 100 Words

7. Word Meaning

We all need to understand the meaning of the words that we read. When we don’t understand the meaning we can get lost in the text, get confused or simply lose interest.

Age appropriate vocabulary acquisition is an important part of early literacy, and the foundation of this is strong Oral Language Development. When children have access to hearing more words and hearing the definitions of those words, their knowledge of word meaning increases, and therefore their chances of understanding more complex text increases.

In addition to understanding the meaning of words, a very important skill to teach children is to identify the moments when they don’t understand the meaning of a word, stop reading, get the definition, and resume reading.

8. Word Structure

Word structure is all about how words are built and how they relate to each other structurally.

Some examples of word structure are:

  • syllables (mit-ten, pa-per, hap-py)
  • contractions with different endings (can/can’t, I will/I’ll)
  • compound words (campfire, sunshine, myself)
  • plurals (apple/apples, mouse/mice)
  • silent ‘e’ (cake/made/time)

9. Word Solving Behaviors

Word structure is all about how words are built and how they relate to each other structurally.

Some examples of word structure are:

  • syllables (mit-ten, pa-per, hap-py)
  • contractions with different endings (can/can’t, I will/I’ll)
  • compound words (campfire, sunshine, myself)
  • plurals (apple/apples, mouse/mice)
  • silent ‘e’ (cake/made/time)

10. Text Comprehension

Writing was created to convey a message and therefore, comprehension is the point of reading. Does the child understand what he or she has read? Reading a menu at a restaurant is a very different message than reading a novel or a newspaper.

It can be very common for a child to read beautifully, fluently and smoothly. This can be a very satisfying and gratifying experience for all involved. However, there are times, when the child is asked questions about what was just read, and the child has no idea. Some children need to be trained to realize that reading is also about understanding what the words say.

Simply put, can the child answer any questions about the text at the end of the reading passage? If not, then explain to the child that the point of reading is to understand what is being read and walk them through the literary elements of the text, whether it is a story, a list or so on.