Learning to read is a critical skill which sets the foundation for a child's future academic success. Before children can read, however, they must first develop a strong sense of print awareness. Print awareness is the understanding that written or printed words convey meaning and are used for communication. This will involve
Recognizing the relationship between spoken language and written text in whatever language the child is learning or using
Understanding how letters and words are formed and arranged, and
Identifying different types of print.
Strategies for Building Print Awareness
Parents and educators can support the development of print awareness in children by incorporating simple strategies into daily life. Here are some ways to do so:
Point out print in the environment: Take a walk around the neighborhood and point out signs, labels, and other print materials. Ask your child what the words say and what they mean.
When out: Read the menu with your child at a restaurant, flip through a magazine while waiting to see a doctor or dentist, point out labels of products at the supermarket or stores.
Read together: Read books together with your child regularly, and use your finger to point to the words as you read them. This helps your child understand that print is read from left to right (in languages like Arabic and Hebrew, print is still read from right to left!) and from top to bottom.
Label everyday items: Label items around the house, such as doors, windows, chairs, and home appliances to help your child develop the understanding that the names of these items correspond with a printed word.
Create a print-rich environment: Fill your home with books, magazines, newspapers, and other print materials to encourage your child's interest in reading.
Teach them the alphabet through play: Encourage your child to play with letters and words. You can make letter cards, play word games, or write your child's name in big letters and have them trace it.
Print differences: Point out that letters and words can look different in different types of print media which may use different font types. Examples are shown below – for just the letter “Aa” and the word “word”.
By incorporating these simple strategies into your daily life, you can help your child develop a strong foundation of print awareness. This will make it easier for them to learn to read, become proficient readers, and ultimately, develop a lifelong love of reading.
At Learning Vessels, we have also developed a Learning Aa to Zz book which enables learning of the English alphabet through craft-like activities involving cutting, pasting, stamping, hole-punching, and colouring! The exercises include recognizing the letters in different types of fonts, and serve as a good tool for building a sense of print awareness in children. Check it out here!