Abstract Research on early childhood literacy pinpoints the early childhood years as the foundational base period for developing the language and literacy skills that are fundamental to a young child’s long term developmental success in reading and writing. This study places theoretical attention on the essential components of literacy that promote and predict the essential emergent literacy development of a child. This efficacious aspect of learning acquisition is critically pertinent for the school readiness of a child in being well read.
Findings support and highlight how the acquiring of skills in components of literacy such as phonological awareness, vocabulary and language knowledge, alphabet and sound recognition, print and text comprehension as well as the use of sound instructional practices and strategies among teachers will promote the optimal level of success in early literacy and beyond. Introduction Early childhood literacy is an emphatic, essential, and extensive branch of education that seeks to equip young children with the optimal skills that will cause them to emerge in reading and writing.
These foundational skills are critical and predictive of one’s diagnosis of success within these parameters. Research notes that depending on where they start, their experiences in the home, and the curriculum being used in their classroom, many children will leave preschool with early literacy skills that put them on a trajectory to transition successfully to learning to read (Lonigan, Allan, & Lerner, 2011). To signify, the essence of these skills is manifested early in one’s life and is the predecessor of one’s future achievement in literacy.
The developmental stage for the actual acquiring of these precursor skills begins in infancy and extends to the primary years. However, it is important to note that for the purpose of this study, early literacy skills will be based on those skills that occur at the preschool ages of 3-4. Then too, within this digest, it is important to note that effective preschool programs are the panels of early education that promote, support, and contribute to the child’s future reading and writing readiness. These factors characterize the role of early childhood programs in promoting children’s early literacy development for later achievement in reading.
The acquisition of children’s reading skills was once thought to originate with the start of reading instruction in elementary school, but research now supports the idea that learning to read is a continuous developmental process that emerges early in life (Wilson & Longman, 2009). For this purpose, a study has been proposed to increase the focus on the early years of education as the precursor for later success in literacy and to discover those early literacy skills that foster success in literacy and inform of the assessments and strategies that are the best practices for providing this evidence.
The following research question and hypotheses were made declarative or stated as a guide for this proposal: Research question: Does the acquisition of early literacy skills foster future success in literacy? Hypotheses: The acquisition of early literacy skills fosters future success in literacy. Subsequent Hypotheses: 1) Literacy rich environments or settings contribute to a child’s future success in reading. 2) Effective teaching strategies support a child’s development of literacy.
These modes and mechanisms form the basis for providing children with an effective curriculum, strategies, techniques, and activities that will empower their knowledge and give them a sound foundation of emergent literacy. The very term emergent literacy is a relatively new one that evolved in response to evidence that literacy development occurs along a continuum that begins long before children actually start formal schooling and long before they acquire conventional literacy skills such as decoding, oral reading, reading comprehension, spelling and writing (Invernizzi, Landrum, Teichman, & Townsend, 2010).
To note, the learning phase of literacy for children begins at birth and extends to the preschool phase and beyond. Infants begin to grasp books and take them to caregivers of parents to read. Around the age of two, children begin to recognize favorite books by cover and can memorize and restate some of the words. Between the ages of three and four, children are able to picture read and retell stories as well as manipulate letters and print. At the ages of five and six, children then begin to understand that words have meaning.
The emergent skills and abilities that are strong predictors of future progression and succession in later reading and writing outcomes include the following: 1) Phonological Sensitivity- Children begin to hear and understand various sounds and patterns of spoken language. More specifically, these skills begin with listening to sounds and then noticing and discriminating rhyme and alliteration. Afterwards children begin to determine syllables in words by examining onset and rime.
Phonological awareness skills generally graduate to advanced phonemic awareness skills and later lay the foundation for the gaining of phonics. They are further progressed and promoted as children sing songs; hear stories, and finger plays or rhymes (Heroman & Jones, 2010). Research has found phonological awareness skills in preschool to be one of the most robust predictors of early reading success in a child’s first few years of formal schooling” (Callaghan & Madelaine, 2012).
2) Print Knowledge- Children’s ability to organize and convey meaning of words through sounds, words, or sentences. The conventions of print that are modeled by teachers and learned by children and that eventually help to bring awareness to the functions of print include providing print rich environments, interacting during story times, watching adults write and read books. 3) Alphabet Knowledge-Children begin to recognize letters and their sounds to printed letters. A child’s knowledge of the alphabet is the single best predictor of first-year reading success (Elliot & Olliff, 2008).
Children who are exposed to alphabetic activities and experiences such as reading books that display the alphabet, manipulating magnetic or textured alphabets, playing games that reference the alphabet, as well as singing and saying the alphabet have increased letter knowledge that will eventually promote reading and writing achievement. It was found that knowledge of letter names prior to kindergarten was predictive of reading ability in fifth and tenth grade (Wilson & Lonigan, 2008). 4) Comprehension-Children make meaning of text by being able to process stories they have heard read aloud.
They are also provided with language rich activities, directions, and instructions as a way to understand and communicate knowledge. Teachers can promote listening and story comprehension skills by doing the following: * Talk with children frequently throughout the day * Use language that is easy for children to understand * Help children understand language by rephrasing it when necessary * Play listening games * Help children learn to follow and give directions * Read aloud to small groups of children * Prepare children for a reading by taking a “picture walk” * Show children the pictures as you read.
* When reading to children, encourage them to ask questions, make predictions, talk about the story, and connect new ideas with what they already know * Facilitate story retellings (Heroman & Jones, 2010). Review of Related Literature A review of the research literature reveals how early childhood literacy and learning governs the academic research among young children. The use of early literacy assessments as evidence of directly measuring student’s knowledge is examined as the way to understand children’s development in literacy and ascertaining what counts as student learning.
The early literacy instruction take the form of isolated activities and skills that could be easily documented, measured, quantified or qualified as the condition for evaluating the prerequisite skills for eventual success in formal reading and writing. Children are assessed on how many alphabets they know; how many sight words they can recognize; how they distinguish individual sounds or phonemes in spoken language; how they make connections between letters and sounds; and how they use language to tell stories and share information as the way to individualize or compare a student’s performance (Casbergue, 2010).
Children who are at risk for later reading problems have weaker emergent literacy skills than children not at risk for later reading problems. Several studies examining the predictive validity between emergent literacy skills and later reading skills have found that emergent literacy skills are good indicators of whether a child will have trouble with reading in the early elementary grades.
Therefore, it is helpful for teachers to be able to measure accurately those emergent skills to determine who is most at risk for later reading problems and implement interventions geared toward improving emergent literacy skills with at risk children (Wilson & Lonigan, 2009). Research suggests several programs or assessments that will help teachers in identifying, guiding, and implementing those skills that will cause students to gain early responsiveness in literacy.
The article, “Increased Implementation of Emergent Literacy Screening in Pre-Kindergarten focuses on the findings that emphasize how prekindergarten programs are prevalent for ensuring academic success in literacy.
The findings suggest that children who attend a good Pre-K program will more than likely not have reading difficulties in later years. The use of emergent literacy assessments by teachers helps in discussing the specific information about literacy development that will assist the teacher in making informed decisions for meeting instructional goals and objectives. These assessments help the teachers to learn what the student knows or what they need to learn while also addressing the teacher’s instructional methods and modes.
It was found that these assessments help in identifying a student’s strengths and targets their weaknesses for advanced instructional literacy needs. PALS-PreK which focuses on the alphabet knowledge, phonological awareness, print concepts, and writing skills of students is the tool that measures the progress of students and helps teachers to assess the knowledge and mastery level of the students. This assessment was used to assess the emergent literacy skills of more than 21,000 students prior to Kindergarten as the way to target their performance.
It is an easy to use system that is administered to children individually by the classroom teacher and does not rely on an allotted time for completing the assessment (Invernizzi, Landrum, Teichman, & Townsend, 2010). The Creative Curriculum is an ongoing assessment tool that assesses children using specific objective indicators and predictors of standards that pertain to school readiness and the success of children within the field of literacy.
This tool requires that teachers write observations or records of children during naturalistic situations in the classroom or during group time as the most accurate way for measuring the literate success of the child. Children will be required to demonstrate phonological awareness, knowledge of the alphabet and sounds, knowledge of print and emerging writing skills as well as respond to books and other text and will be assessed and placed within a color coded mastery level and will be assessed throughout the school year (Heroman & Jones, 2010).
The article Assessment of Preschool Early Literacy Skills: Linking Children’s Educational Needs with Empirically Supported Instructional Activities, Longman, Allan, & Lerner describe preschool as the critical predictive phase of learning wherein children’s early literacy skills are detected, developed, and directed towards them becoming skilled readers and writers.
Longman et al provide a research study that supports the crucial role of teachers in providing children with a strong literacy enriched foundational base wherein there is a rich curriculum that includes the necessary activities that will promote their proficiency in literacy. Substantial evidence points to children’s acquired skills in alphabet knowledge, print, phonology, and oral language attributes to the outgrowth and successful achievement levels in their evolving literacy skills. This article further discussed three methods for determining and evaluating the skills of preschool children.
Primary forms of assessment which included informal assessments, screening/progress monitoring, and diagnostic assessments were further investigated as it related to the measurement of children’s developmental goals and gains in correlation to the effectiveness of the teacher’s guided instructions and activities. One valid and reliable assessment that is of particular focus is that of diagnostics assessments. Diagnostic assessments are reliable and valid in that they will identify a child’s strengths within a specific set of skills or discipline and expose mastery of it.
Then too, these assessments will measure exactly what they are intended to measure. Longman et al contend, “The key advantage of diagnostic assessments include in depth examination of specific skill areas, generally high reliability, established validity of the measure, and the ability to compare a specific child’s performance with a known reference group” ( Lonigan, Allan, & Lerner, 2011). The authors provide accurate evidence of children’s progress wherein the tests within the above mentioned literacy areas provided high levels of internal consistency and test retest ability wherein the tests were error free and provided accurate scores.
The tests also yielded multiple items within the measure that would further index the child’s developmental level within literacy. A further quasi-experimental research was conducted as to how teachers enhance the early literacy skills of preschool children. The research was conducted during the span of two years and across 20 Head start sites. 750 teachers were selected to participate as 370 classrooms conducted pre and posttest assessments.
Student performances were examined in comparison of being taught by teachers with either 1 or 2 years of training and instructional experience. It was found that teachers who were more educated were more effective to the student’s overall achievement of early literacy skills (Landry, Swank, Smith, Assel, & Gunnwig). Even further within the research literature on early childhood literacy is the importance of preschool early intervention in literacy. Researchers have examined phonological awareness skills as being robust skills for later conventional literacy skills.
The National Center for Family Literacy (NELP) conducted a meta-analysis of more than 299 studies on children between the ages of birth and five years and recognized phonological awareness as one of the most important determinants of early reading success (Callaghan & Madelaine, 2012). Then too, researchers detail the importance of phonological skills being initially taught in preschool due to the phonological sensitivity of children during this age period. It is estimated that preschool children who have a sound foundation of phonological skills will achieve reading skills during later years.
Longitudinal studies have traced the performance early literacy skills of preschoolers and subsequent later grades and determined positive literacy outcomes. Research also places a significant amount of focus on the instructions and strategies that will influence the literacy development of preschoolers. Researchers suggested that preschoolers benefited more from shorter periods of intensive literacy instruction during small group settings within a play based curriculum as opposed to longer periods of instruction. The following chart lists the actual activities or skills that teachers use to promote literacy within the classroom.
It lists the frequency of the skills as a way to inform the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the strategies. Language and Literacy Activities in Center-Based Early Childhood Settings (N = 180) | Variable| % Reporting Often or Always| % Reporting Sometimes| % Reporting Seldom or Never| M| SD| Language and Literacy Promotion Scale (23-items)| -| -| -| 4. 17| 0. 64| 1. Read aloud to children in a group setting. | 78. 3| 16. 7| 5. 0| 4. 24| 0. 90| 2. Read aloud to children individually. | 50. 0| 30. 6| 19. 4| 3. 44| 1. 07| 3. Set aside special time each day to read to children. | 75. 0| 19. 4| 5.
6| 4. 13| 0. 97| 4. Read aloud a variety of books. | 85. 6| 9. 4| 5. 0| 4. 34| 0. 87| 5. Reread favorite books. | 82. 8| 12. 8| 4. 4| 4. 28| 0. 90| 6. Talk about books read together. | 68. 9| 20. 6| 10. 6| 3. 95| 1. 11| 7. Ask children questions about the books. | 74. 4| 17. 8| 7. 8| 4. 10| 1. 06| 8. Provide opportunities for children to look at books and other printed materials on own. | 82. 2| 13. 3| 4. 4| 4. 31| 0. 90| 9. Teach children features of a book. | 58. 3| 21. 1| 20. 6| 3. 65| 1. 25| 10. Teach children that printed letters and words run from left to right and from top to bottom.
| 63. 3| 19. 4| 17. 2| 3. 74| 1. 21| 11. Practice saying alphabet with the children. | 93. 3| 5. 0| 1. 7| 4. 60| 0. 68| 12. Teach children to recognize letters of alphabet. | 90. 0| 7. 8| 2. 2| 4. 54| 0. 80| 13. Teach children to distinguish between uppercase and lowercase letters. | 69. 4| 20. 6| 10. 0| 3. 98| 1. 19| 14. Help children learn the sounds each letter can represent. | 78. 9| 12. 2| 8. 9| 4. 23| 1. 09| 15. Teach children to write letters of alphabet. | 71. 7| 17. 2| 11. 1| 4. 05| 1. 15| 16. Help children to write their names. | 74. 4| 16.
1| 9. 4| 4. 10| 1. 13| 17. Help children identify different colors, shapes, and sizes. | 88. 3| 8. 3| 3. 3| 4. 57| 0. 80| 18. Help children learn opposites. | 81. 1| 16. 1| 2. 8| 4. 29| 0. 89| 19. Help children recognize numbers. | 87. 2| 8. 9| 3. 9| 4. 46| 0. 83| 20. Practice counting with the children. | 88. 9| 9. 4| 1. 7| 4. 57| 0. 75| 21. Choose books to read aloud that focus on sounds, rhyming, and alliteration. | 77. 2| 16. 7| 6. 1| 4. 16| 0. 93| 22. Have children sing or say a familiar nursery rhyme or song. | 85. 6| 12. 8| 1. 7| 4. 42| 0. 78| 23.
Encourage children to make up new verses of familiar songs or rhymes by changing beginning sounds or words. (Green & Peterson, 2006). | 63. 9| 20. 6| 15. 6| 3. 85| 1. 17| Methodology The writer begins by selecting the type of research which will be conducted which is an evaluation research. Two emergent literacy screening tools for preschool age children are used as measureable tools for identifying the acquisition of children’s emergent literacy skills are the Get Ready to Read Tool (GRTR) and the Individual Growth and Development Indicators (IGDI). The GRTR test has 20 activities that strictly measure phonological and print skills.
The children are shown a page with four pictures and asked a question that responds to one of the pictures. At the end of the test the scores are tallied for a final comprehensive score. Children master IGDI test by selecting picture cards that respond to questions about Alliteration and Rhyming, Picture Naming, and Phonological awareness skills. Children are given a flashcard within one of the domains and asked a question and prompted to point to the correct answer. The scores consist of the number of correct answers that were completed within a specified amount of time.
Both of these tests were administered in July and October with the consent of the parents of the preschool age children and lasted about 40 minutes (Wilson & Lonigan, 2009). Participants For this study, 21 preschools in Florida participated. The children’s ages ranged from 42 to 55 months. There was an equal distribution of boys and girls. 70% of the children were Caucasian, 19% were African American and 11% were of another ethnicity. Conclusion/Recommendation The IGDI performance test scores were worse than those of the GRTR in terms of concurrent validity and reliability due to some of the children being unable to complete the tests.
It was determined that the tests were difficult for the age group and therefore were unreliable. The GRTR was more reliable in that it was geared towards the age of the children. The results of the study were clear in that this screener was better for measuring the emergent literacy skills of preschool children as the evidence for later performance in reading. Researchers, educators, and policy makers are concerned with the quality of literacy programs, the effectiveness of literacy instruction, and the achievement of students with the field of literacy.
Finding from this study support how early childhood programs promote language and literacy skills for future success in reading and literacy. References Bright From the Start: Georgia’s Department of Early Care and Learning. http://decal. ga. gov/documents/attachments/content_standards_full. pdf Callaghan, G. , & Madelaine, A. (2012). Leveling the Playing Field for Kindergarten entry: Research Implications for Preschool Early Literacy Instruction. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 37, 13-23. Casbergue, R. M. (2010). Assessment and Instruction in Early Childhood Education: Early Literacy as a Microcosm of Shifting Perspectives.
13-20 Elliot, E. M. , & Oliff, C. B. (2008). Developmentally Appropriate Emergent Literacy Activities for Young Children: Adapting the Early Literacy and Learning Model. Early Childhood Education Journal, 35, 551-556. Green, S. D. , & Peterson, R. (2006). Language and Literacy Promotion in Early Childhood Setting: A Survey of Center Based Practices. Early Childhood Research and Practice, 14 (1) Heroman, C. , & Jones, C. (2010). The Creative Curriculum for Preschool: Literacy. Vol. 35, 537-567. Invernizzi, M. , Landrum, T. L. , Teichman, A. , & Townsend, M. (2010).
Increased Implementation of Emergent Literacy Screening in Pre-Kindergarten. Early Childhood Education Journal, 37, 437-446. Landry, S. Swank, P. R. , Smith, K. E. , & Assel, M. A. (2006). Enhancing Early Literacy Skills for Preschool Children: Bringing a Professional Development Model to Scale. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 39, 306-324. Longman, C. J. , Allan, N. P. , & Lerner, M. D. (2011). Assessment of Preschool Early Literacy Skills: Linking Children’s Educational Needs with Empirically Supported Instructional Activities. Psychology in the Schools, 48, 488-501.