Early Childhood Literacy: What is it? Why does it matter?

Before we dive into this incredibly important topic of early literacy we wanted to take a brief moment to introduce our newest This Toddler Life team member, Rachel Senbanjo. To learn more about Rachel and early literacy, be sure to watch the video below or keep reading!

Our newest team member!

Rachel is joining us as a co-owner of This Toddler Life. We are so excited to welcome her, and get to know more about her Montessori journey. She is a British mum of four beautiful girls, currently living in Dubai. Her and her family have lived in London and Africa as well. She is actually a teacher by trade, and has 20 years of teaching experience. However, the majority of her experience was in middle and high schools until she gave birth to her first daughter.

As is the story with most of us parents; When she had her daughter, her world was flipped upside down. She felt like she had a good grip on education, but when it came to babies and toddlers she realized she had a lot to learn. So, she began diving into the philosophies of Maria Montessori, Reggio Emilia and Rudolf Steiner/Waldorf and implementing Montessori at home. She loved the child-led, holistic educational philosophies so much, that she actually started her own progressive school serving babies up to children 6-7 years of age.

Even more than the education though, Rachel loved the community that the parents and caregivers built. Which is EXACTLY why we’re so thrilled to have her here, helping to lead the This Toddler Life community, full of hundreds of thousands of parents worldwide!

We not only wanted to introduce Rachel to our community. We also wanted to give you all an opportunity to learn more about her and her philosophies by chatting with Rachel about early literacy. What is it? Why is it important? How can we implement literacy in a Montessori aligned way in our own homes?

Keep reading, to hear what Rachel had to say about early literacy …

What is early literacy?

Rachel: Early literacy are the skills that eventually lead to reading and writing. When I was teaching older kids they came to me already knowing how to read and write. So, truthfully  I didn’t even think about early literacy until after I had my own children. I began questioning what I needed to do to get them ready for reading and writing, in a more formal educational setting.

As parents, we want to give our children the biggest head start in life that we possibly can. That’s why early literacy is so important. If we can set a foundation of reading and writing essentials EARLY, our children will take to more formal literacy tasks with more ease.

Why is early literacy at home important to think about?

Rachel: Early literacy is so important because the earlier we can introduce our children to even just the sounds of words and letters – the better. In fact, when thinking about literacy at home, there are 5 foundational pre-literacy skills we can lay at home:

  1. Motivation – Making reading and writing enjoyable, so that our children look forward to reading with us, and eventually independently.
  2. Print awareness – This can include concepts such as letters make up words, or even that print runs from left to right and top to bottom (in America).
  3. Letter knowledge – Singing the ‘ABC song’ or introducing children to developmentally appropriate TV shows that introduce letters are a great way to build this knowledge.
  4. Vocabulary – Talking with our children as if we were talking with another adult is so important. There’s no need to use smaller words with children. Using a wide range of words helps our children learn.
  5. Talking to our children – Just getting children used to hearing the sounds of words and letters is so important and it’s easy to do this by simply narrating your day, or even pointing and naming as you move through your day.

How can we practice early literacy at home?

Rachel: Early literacy can sound complicated but it’s not. You can even start before your baby is born! Just by talking to your baby while they’re in utero or playing them music.

The easiest way to practice early literacy at home is by exposing your children to as much language as you can. You can do this by simply talking to them. Narrating your day aloud so they can hear what you’re doing. Having conversations with them, singing along to music or reciting silly rhymes or nursery rhymes. The best way to develop early literacy skills though is to READ, READ, READ.

More than likely, there will be one particular book that your child will want to read over and over again and that’s okay! Remember that they may be within their sensitive period for order, and reading the same book repeatedly allows them to make sense and seek out patterns within the text.

In conclusion, we’re hosting a giveaway over in our Montessori Toddler’s Facebook group for the remainder of this week (7/11/2022). So, if you’d like to be entered to win a FREE copy of Holly’s Montessori Inspired Life e-book, head here and follow the directions.

In the meantime we’d love to know: Does your child have a favorite book? We’d love to hear in the comment section below, what is your child’s favorite book at the moment?


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