Explaining and Understanding Early Literacy
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AuthorNeuman, Susan B.
Asociación Española de Comprensión Lectora
Neuman, S.B. Explaining and Understanding Early Literacy. ISL, 2: 7-14 (2014). [http://hdl.handle.net/10481/33861]
SponsorshipAsociación Española de Comprensión Lectora
The last decade has brought a growing consensus on the range of skills that serve as the foundation for reading and writing ability (Neuman & Dickinson, 2011). To become a skilled reader, children need a rich language and conceptual knowledge base, a broad and deep vocabulary, and verbal reasoning abilities to understand messages that are conveyed through print. Children also must develop code-related skills, an understanding that spoken words are composed of smaller elements of speech (phonological awareness); the idea that letters represent these sounds (the alphabetic principle), the many systematic correspondences between sounds and spellings, and a repertoire of highly familiar words that can be easily and automatically recognized. But to attain a high level of skill, young children need opportunities to develop these strands, not in isolation, but interactively. Meaning, not sounds or letters, motivates children’s earliest experiences with print. Consequently, it is important to recognize that in practice, children acquire these skills in coordination and interaction with meaningful experiences. Given the tremendous attention that early literacy has received recently and the increasing diversity of the child population in most countries, it is important and timely to take stock of these critical dimensions as well as the strengths and gaps in our ability to measure these skills effectively. In the following sections, I describe the critical dimensions of early literacy and the implications for high quality practices in the early childhood setting.