10.2 Language- and Literacy-Rich Environments

Illustration of a bird's nest

Photo of young girl sitting in a classroom with her pencil and writing pad.
Children continue to develop their literacy skills as they move into school-age years.

Language- and literacy-rich home, community, and school environments continue to be important as children transition from their prekindergarten years to their kindergarten and early primary years. At home and in the community, children continue to observe and engage in language and literacy events that develop their oral language and conventional literacy skills. As their language skills progress, they become more active participants in the conversations that surround them. This, in turn, supports the further development of their vocabulary and conversational skills, especially in the languages spoken at home and in the community. Likewise, as children become increasingly more capable of reading print in their environment, they might read an “I love you” text from a grandparent, a birthday card from a neighbor, or the title of a favorite television show or movie. In addition, books and e-readers play an important role in their language and literacy development as they listen to increasingly more complex texts and begin to read books independently. At the same time, children’s writing skills become more conventional, which enables them to use writing as a means to make notes to themselves and communicate with family and friends. For example, children might write a reminder about the topic of books they want to check out from the library (e.g., dinosaur books) or create a poster for their door with their name showing ownership of their room (e.g., Clara’s room). They might also create lengthier compositions, such as a story, like the make-believe stories Nukilik shares with his classmates, or information about a topic of interest to share with others.

Similar to their younger years, children come to school enriched by these home and community language and literacy experiences. Educators build upon and add to these experiences by creating a classroom environment that values children’s diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds and provides meaningful opportunities to engage in language and literacy activities. As children transition from prekindergarten to kindergarten classroom contexts, exposure to rich language and literacy environments continues to be important. Children need opportunities throughout the day to express their ideas orally and in writing and to interact with diverse texts. Print-rich environments, access to a plethora of texts, and experiences writing for a variety of purposes work in complementary ways to support children’s early literacy.

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The Early Literacy Journey: Supporting and Celebrating Young Learners Copyright © 2024 by Sandra Carrie Garvey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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