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Our Blog: March 7, 2019

Developmental Domain Series: Language Development

This month, let’s take a closer look at the Language Development Domain, focusing on literacy development.

In order for children to learn to read and write, they need to understand the connection between letters on a page and spoken sounds. This understanding is developed through the building blocks of literacy:

* Print awareness: Knowing that written language carries meaning

* Alphabet knowledge: Knowing letters and words—their names, shapes, and sounds

* Phonological Awareness: Knowing the sounds of spoken language, such as rhymes and syllables

* Phonemic Awareness: Knowing the individual sounds in spoken words

Here are some ways you can help your child learn the building blocks of literacy at home:


* Read with expression. Change voices for different characters. Let your tone and volume reflect what’s happening in the story. For example, if a character is whispering, you should whisper.

* Allow your baby to hold the book and explore it. Observe how they hold the book, if they turn the pages, how they look at the pages as they go through the book, etc.

* Provide crayons for your infant to draw with. Shorter writing instruments are better for developing fine motor skills.


* As you read with your child, ask questions about the story and the characters.

* Give your child the book upside down and say that the book does not look right to you. See if your child can figure out the correct way to look at the book. On each page, point to where you begin reading and then follow along by sliding your finger under each word.

* Encourage your child to scribble and draw pictures. This is how communicating through writing starts! For example, invite your child to draw pictures about what happened during their day at school and write notes to family and friends.


* Ask questions as you read with your child. You can ask comprehension questions about the story and you can also ask your child why they think a character did something or how they think a character feels. Ask your child to make predictions about what will happen next; ask why they made that prediction.

* Encourage your child to write notes to loved ones, stories about what happened in their day, shopping lists, or anything that interests them. Ask your child questions about what they’re writing.

* Play sound games with your child. For example, give your child a word and ask them to give you a word that rhymes with it, or give them a word and ask what sounds they hear at the beginning and end of the word.

School Age:

* Have your child read to you. Ask questions, make comments, and ask for predictions as they read.

* Play sound games with your child. For example, give your child a word and ask how many sounds they hear in the word (three has 3 sounds, frog has 4 sounds). Or give them a word and ask them to change letter sounds (in the word bat, take away the b and replace it with a c). What word do we have now?

* Make writing purposeful for your child. For example, if your child is a huge fan of a singer, actor, or basketball player, help them write a letter to the person and actually mail it!

Here are some great resources about how to support literacy development at home:

Next month, we’ll focus on the Cognitive Development Domain.

Miss the most recent article in our series? Read it here.

About the Author

Dr. Susan Canizares

Dr. Susan Canizares is the Chief Academic Officer at Learning Care Group, responsible for leading all aspects of the educational mission. Dr. Canizares earned her Ph.D. in language and literacy development from Fordham University and a master’s degree in special education, specializing in Early Childhood, from New York University. She has authored more than 100 nonfiction photographic titles for beginning readers. Some of her published credits include Side by Side Series: Little Raccoon Catches a Cold and A Writer’s Garden.