Promoting Literacy @ Home

An info & activity page for parents of K-1st Grade Students


Literacy and oral language are best supplemented by parents from the start. However this can be somewhat of a daunting task. So... I have put together a comprehensive page with activities to share with your child at home or on the go! I have also included some important vocabulary knowledge for parental use - so you can sound super smart when discussing your child's literacy! Let's work as a team to get your student on board for reading and writing!

What is Emergent Literacy?

Emergent literacy refers to the reading and writing experiences that a child encounters before formal literacy instruction begins. These experiences occur in the home, social environments, and preschool settings. Students begin to recognize print and its purpose, and how the alphabet is made up of sounds, and how those sounds make words.

Language Experience Approach (LEA)

The language experience approach is a teaching resource that can be used by parents and teachers. This approach uses the background experience of the student to help them develop their own stories. This is a great way to let your child's own experiences help them build their own story!

Importance of Decoding and Segmentation for Emergent Readers

What is decoding and segmentation? These are some adult vocabulary words to learn!

Decoding is the method of unlocking the meaning of the word.

Segmentation is the recognition of each sound in a word.

Why are these important?

Segmentation is important so that students can isolate each sound in a word, therefore building their phonemic and phonological awareness (don't fret, we will address these terms in the next text cube). Without students being able to segment words into sounds they loose the concept of reading and they will struggle to write. Having the ability to hear each sound in a word will later on help students pair those sounds with the letter of the alphabet they represent.

Decoding follows along the same lines as segmentation. Think of it like this - decoding is just segmenting on a larger scale. Decoding is the act of deriving meaning from words. Without the ability to derive what words mean students will loose the value of the text and reading will become extremely difficult for them.

So how do you help with decoding and segmenting at home? Glad you asked...

A simple segmenting activity is to say an English word to your child, such as bat, and ask them to tell you each sound in that word. They should respond with /b/ /a/ /t/. This can be repeated with short words until the pattern of recognition is achieved and then you can use even larger words. This is a great activity for busy days or for running errands.

For decoding you can have your child read aloud a story with you and have them try and sound out as many words as they can on each page. Warning: This might be frustrating at first but don't worry, with every book you read your child will get better and better at decoding and therefore less frustrated. Note: If they are really struggling, you can read most of the words in the book and have them sound out just a few to start.

Phonemic and Phonological Awareness

Dictionary Definition: Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate individual phonemes. Phonological awareness includes this ability, but it also includes the ability to hear and manipulate larger units of sound, such as onsets and rimes and syllables.

To put this into a definition that makes sense, we will discuss each one of the components.

Phonemic Awareness - ability to hear and manipulate individual phonemes. We covered this concept in the text cube above when we talked about segmentation. Segmentation is part of phonemic awareness. Students must have mastered this concept to begin reading and writing. This is why it is so important to do simple activities like the one outlined before - "Say all the sounds in the word bat" "/b/ /a/ /t/". This helps students isolate each sound which will later help them attach those sounds to letters.

Phonological awareness - ability to manipulate phonemes and larger units of sound. The larger units of sound that the definition talks about are onsets, rimes, and syllables. See below to learn about what each of those words mean.

English as a Second Language

ESL is a very important strand of English & Language Arts (ELA) education. Since the ELL (English Language Learner) has experienced two or more languages it is helpful to give them strategies to keep those different languages separate and stored in their brain. These strategies often include helping Spanish as a First Language students recognize similar sounds in both English and Spanish. Another strategy is to make ELA activities focused on the knowledge they have, and a piece of knowledge they want to gain. This can be promoted by students drawing pictures along with writing text, making a word bank or a word wall available to ELLs, and also having a notebook for them to keep important vocabulary words in.

Note: It is important to explain common meanings of English words before beginning instruction and to use strategies such as LEA. (Nath and Ramsey pg. 23)

Using Oral Expression

Did you Know: There are approximately 44 different sounds in the English Language?

Alphabetic Principle

What is it?

The alphabetic principle states that there is a one-to-one correspondence between alphabet letters (graphemes) and sounds (phonemes). (Nath and Ramsey pg. 34).

This means that the letter "A" corresponds to all of the "A" sounds. Think of the words apple, father, cat, ape, & ace. They all use different sounds that the letter A can make. How cool!

How to Help your Children Understand it:

Letter-Sound correspondence is very important for students to understand. This knowledge also must be mastered before the student can learn to read.

Here is a link to a ton of printable activities to use with your child:

Helping your Child Master Letter Recognition

Letter recognition corresponds to the alphabetic principle. Letter recognition is the relationship of letters in printed words to spoken language (Nath & Ramsey pg. 35)

A simple activity to use when helping your child master letter recognition is when in conversation take a pause and focus on one word that was just said, such as "smile." You can then ask your child a series of questions to reinforce past principles as well as this one.

"What is the first sound of that word?"

"What letter makes that sound?"

"What sound does the word end with?"

"What letter makes that sound?"

"How do you think you spell that word?" <-- With this help them sound it out!

And Finally...

In conclusion a balanced approach to literacy is highly recommended for parents to encourage at home during the stages of emergent literacy and this approach will also be applied in my classroom.

A balanced approach includes:

oral and written language, books on tape, read-alouds, reader's theatre, show-and-tell, independent reading time, library access as well as the classroom library, pronunciation and fluency activities, comprehension strategies, learning how to sound out words, and higher-level thinking activities (Nath and Ramsey pg. 39).

Until Next Time!

Laura Hammann

I am currently a student in the Southern Methodist University Simmons School of Educational Science as well as the Meadows Program for the Arts. I will be graduating in December of 2015 with a BA from Meadows and a minor in Elementary Education. I will then complete my student teaching in the Spring of 2016 and be awarded my Teacher's Certificate.

Elementary Education and using art in the classroom is my passion! I am a "geek" when it comes to anything relating to elementary student learning. I also have a drive to incorporate art and student creativity in every aspect of my teaching.