5 Tips on How to Teach Literacy Every Day in Early Education

March 13, 2017

The Council for Professional Recognition enjoyed promoting literacy in March, but as the month came to a close, we realized the need to remind everyone about the importance of literacy all year long. Literacy falls under CDA Functional Area #6: Communication. The communications training materials teach in-depth developmentally appropriate practices to promote young children’s language and early literacy learning.

For this blog, Valora Washington, Ph.D., shared her insights and experience on how you can:

  • Put literacy into practice during your daily activities as an early childhood education professional
  • Use awareness for mindful literacy tips
  • Teach literacy to dual language learners and children with special needs

Literacy is More Than Reading – It Starts the Moment Babies Hear a Voice!

iStock-172463576When many people think about early literacy, they think about reading. But promoting literacy includes so much more than learning to read in the early years.

Even before birth, babies start to learn language skills. They are aware of familiar voices and sounds. Literacy development begins very early in life. We know that early literacy impacts school achievement and is interrelated with all of the domains of child development. The stronger children’s experiences are with language, the more likely they will experience success when learning to read.

Seven Skills That Promote Literacy

At the Council we are very well aware that it takes a highly competent early childhood educator to promote early literacy. The CDA offers clear standards for what the teacher should know and be able to do to promote early literacy education.

Specifically, the CDA heavily emphasizes and supports early childhood educators as they deepen their practical skills in:

  1. Understanding the language and literacy development of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers
  2. Creating a language and literacy rich learning environment
  3. Supporting oral language development
  4. Fostering reading development
  5. Encouraging writing development
  6. Supporting dual language learners
  7. Partnering with families to strengthen teaching and make cultural connections

Literacy in Your Everyday Life as an Early Childhood Educator

Early educators should remember:

  • That their respect for family diversity and cultures can be very important to early literacy development.
  • Use multiple strategies to both teach and assess early literacy
  • Introduce books to infants and read with toddlers!
  • Promote children’s love of literacy – of words.
  • Don’t forget to help children develop listening skills.
  • Connect with families to support your teaching and facilitate parent-child literacy activities

Tips for Mindful Reading to Dual Language Learners and Children with Special Needs

iStock-155124586The likelihood of an early childhood educator working with children who speak two or more languages is increasing!

At the Council we advocate a clear vision for English language learners: let’s help children to speak, read and write in English while supporting the learning of their home language!

Infants and toddlers may learn English and their home language simultaneously. Remember:

  • Their home language is the foundation for cognitive growth.
  • Children and their families will feel respected and valued when their home language is acknowledged.

We encourage the CDA community and early childhood education programs to seek professional development that enables them to create environments that support dual language learners.

Make Every Word and Activity a Step Towards Literacy

Literacy is an environment-rich aspect of every child’s development.1 All of these are great ways to build a foundation for literacy with young children.

  • Scribbling
  • Rhyming
  • Syllable segmenting
  • Teaching the alphabet
  • Labeling all items in your classroom to encourage reading/object learning, or
  • Singing

It is up to you, as the educator to select the developmentally appropriate practices per age group, development observation, and at times, engage children through activities on subjects that interest them as well. Have fun!

1 Washington, V. (2017). Essentials for Working with Young Children (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: The Council for Professional Recognition.


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