Tips for Transitioning Your Baby Into Child Care

Child Care And Early Literacy: FAQs

by Gene Jimenez

How can daycare help your child to develop a lifelong love of reading? Even though your toddler or preschooler isn't ready to read chapter books (or even sentences) on their own, they can still build fundamental early literacy skills right now. Take a look at what parents need to know about daycare and how young children learn to read.

What Is Early Literacy?

Early literacy is a buzzword term that many parents have heard of—but may not fully understand. As young children start to develop communication and language skills, they become ready to read. This doesn't mean that they can read. Instead, it means that they are developing emergent literacy skills. Early literacy refers to the ways in which adults help emergent readers to learn about books, understand new vocabulary, begin to write letters, identify letters or words, and start to take the first steps toward reading.

What Are Early Literacy Activities In A Daycare Center?

There is no universal early literacy activity or lesson plan that every childcare center or preschool uses. Instead, early childhood educators create classroom-based activities that foster literacy skill-building on a developmentally appropriate level. The specific activities may range from group storytime to creating individual picture books based on a narrative that the teacher reads or that the young students come up with on their own. 

Even though there isn't one early literacy lesson or a single type of activity that all classrooms use, skill-building happens through a combination of discussions/spoken word activities, writing activities (these include drawing and other art explorations), book handling, speech games (such as rhyming and singing songs), and identifying language in the environment. 

The preschool classroom should include plenty of visual opportunities for the students to find letters in the environment. The teacher may label classroom items with the appropriate words/names, hang posters with letters and words on the classroom walls, or make sure there are plenty of print sources available for the children to see, touch, and use. 

How Much Will Children Read In Daycare?

The amount of reading that happens in the daycare classroom varies by age, group, teacher, and program. There is no set or specific amount of reading that you should expect. But this doesn't mean your child should go without reading (or exposure to books and other sources of print letters/words) during their preschool day. 

A high-quality child care center program should provide age/development-appropriate reading materials for the children to use daily. Instead of books that are locked up in a library or placed on shelves that are too high for the children to reach, the educator should create a reading center or classroom library that children can access easily.