First Steps to Literacy

Home / First Steps to Literacy

Are you concerned about how you might help your child get the skills they need for literacy?

This, the first in our series of video blogs, will help.

Watch the Vlog or you can read it below.

There maybe a few extra words in the video. 

First Steps to literacy 1 YouTube play
* * * * * * * *
Click here for a free download listing activities that you can do with your child. 

Early Literacy Through Play Download.

 * * * * * * * * * *

This is my first video blog. I have been inspired to begin producing these because of the questions I keep getting from parents. I thought maybe there are others who would like answers to these questions.

Many parents of young children phone me and ask- “What do I have to do to help my child be a good reader?” 

If there under 4 years it is not making them read words. The steps to literacy start way before the actual reading of words. What parents need to do to build the foundation skills for literacy is surprising easy and fun. Play and talk with your child. The more the better. Heard and spoken language build pathways in the brain that are needed for literacy later.

Every moment a parent spends with their child from birth should include spoken language. Sing to your child – they don’t care if you can hold a tune or not, they are comforted by your voice. This also builds attachment which is essential for your child’s overall development.

Build your child’s vocabulary early.  Name the things they are playing with. Don’t just hand them their toy but say “Here is your fluffy teddy” for example. Try and use good language with descriptions as well.  When dressing them “let’s put your hand in the sleeve”. Don’t just quickly shove it in and move on. Every moment is a teaching moment. I am surprised at the number of children, including mid primary aged children, that cannot point to their elbow, wrist or other body part and name them.  These terms are part of basic body awareness.

One of the early games that I played with my children was helping them learn words by naming parts of their body.  This is one of the early games I played with my children “I’m going to tickle your – knee/elbow/toes etc.”  they giggled like mad and loved it.

Another way you can build skills that are needed for literacy and learning is when you are moving round the house doing chores. Include your toddlers as you work through your housework and say exactly what you are doing out loud. Helping with housework has other advantages for your child as it builds coordination and motor planning skills that are essential for handwriting later.  Don’t forget even a baby sitting in a bouncer or doing some tummy time on the floor watching you is soothed by your voice and are learning the sounds in words which is a building block to reading.  

Lots of games and outings which involve you talking together about what you see and are doing increases the child’s spoken vocabulary and their understanding of the world around them. Always name the main things they see. Just because they see it doesn’t mean they will know what the word is when encountered later.  For instance, don’t just say “look at the duck in the water” say ‘Look at the that brown duck on the pond/lake.”  I had a ten-year old that I knew from her travels had seen rivers, lakes, creeks etc. but could not tell what the difference was between these things when we encountered the words in a story. She had seen them but not had them named and pointed out. Encourage their curiosity as curios children love learning so much more.

The understanding of the world around them underpins children’s ability to comprehend what they read later.

Children’s play is when they learn and if you join in, they will learn even more, and you will have a great time together. Believe me before you know it, they are all grown up and are off with their friends.

Reading to your child is a wonderful way of calming them down for sleep and gives you time to quietly enjoy each other’s company. They love hearing the sound of your voice but engage them in the story as well by stopping occasionally and talk about what is happening. They will get so much more out of the reading time this way.

Parents are great teachers and all you have to do is have lots of fun and adventures together – the house cleaning can wait your child’s brain can’t.

Thanks for joining me and I hope you come back for my next video where we will look at listening skills.


* indicates required


( mm / dd )

Leave a Comment