What are the foundations of literacy?

At first glance, learning to read can seem to be just about learning to match symbols (letters or characters) to sounds. But there is a lot more to reading than meets the eye!

There are three foundational basics: 

First, a child needs to learn that some of the things that she sees around her are language symbols. These can be shop signs, bus stop names, pasta brands. Written language is all around us, and pointing it out to your child is the first step to literacy.

Second, a child needs to learn that symbols have specific forms. Think of all the fonts or handwriting styles for just one letter or character! It is quite an accomplishment to be able to identify the same symbol on a shop sign, on a bus stop panel and on pasta packaging. It can be a very fun game to play while strolling through town or while waiting in line at the grocery store, trying to identify the letters of their name or of their favourite book title.

Third, a child needs to connect writing and reading. It might seem obvious to us adults, but it is only when one person writes that another can read a message. Encouraging a child to write and be read, no matter what the symbols look like, is essential for creating a link between writing and reading. It can be in the form of made up games, such as exchanging letters or secret messages!

There is a lot to learn before diving into Tolstoy’s War and Peace! Just take it slow and make it fun.

The scientific sources for our comic:

Justice, L. M., & Ezell, H. K. (2001). Written language awareness in preschool children from low-income households: A descriptive analysis. Communication Disorders Quarterly, 22(3), 123-134.