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Early Literacy: Milestones for Language and Literacy

Published: Friday, January 06, 2012
By: Bethany Sands, Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe.

Research indicates that early language and literacy experiences provide significant impacts on brain development in infants and toddlers. Literacy research states:

  1. Early Literacy: Milestones for Language and LiteracyLanguage, reading and writing skills develop simultaneously and are inextricably linked. They do not develop independent of each other.
  2. Development is a continuous process starting shortly after birth.
  3. Development occurs in natural settings, though real life experiences and with other people; and literacy materials such as books, markers and paper.

The following milestones provide age-appropriate activities to support development, as well as indicate at what age should you expect to see both interest and beginning mastery.

Infants - 6 months

  • Read books with pictures of people’s faces, animals, familiar objects and baby toys.
  • Read daily.
  • Talk to your baby constantly:
    - Say his/her name.
    - Describe what you are doing (“Mommy is going to change your diaper.” “Lift up your little legs.”).
    - Use the proper names of all common objects
    (“Here is your bottle” not “Here is your ba-ba”).
  • Your baby will begin to imitate speech sounds like na-na, ga-ga.

Infant/Toddler - 1 year olds

  • Read books that allows your child to participate. Have your chlild help turn the pages or point to a picture.
  • Read daily.
  • Have conversations while doing things like riding in the car or stroller.
  • Your child will understand simple phrases you say often such as “Time to eat” or “Let’s take a bath”.
  • Your child may say one or more words.
  • Most babies say da-da before ma-ma!

Toddler - 2 years old

  • Read and recite nursery rhymes. Focus on rhyming words and ends of sentences.
  • Read daily.
  • Visit to the library.
  • Your child should say about 250 words but will understand most of what you say to them.
  • Your child can hold a book, turn pages and “read” by himself or herself for short periods of time.

Young learner - 3 years old

  • Read daily and point to pictures and words as you read.
  • Play word rhyming games.
  • Should be speaking at least 1,000 words.
  • Repeats nursery rhymes, finger plays and commercials from television.

Preschool learners - 4 and 5 years old

  • Read daily.
  • Focus on new words and repeat them in other settings.
  • Call attention to letters, words, familiar slogans and billboards with words.
  • Should use 3,000-5,000 words.
  • Use long sentences to convey wants, retell events and converse conversationally.

Use these milestones as a guide. Remember that every child learns at a different rate. Have fun reading with your child.

Brought to you by The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation and United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education

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