Literacy goes beyond being able to read and write. It is the ability to be able to make sense of the symbols, including letters, that surround us in our world. As infants this begins as the infant learns how to communicate with their caregivers without the use of words. The smiles, cries, coos and physical prompts that infants give are all part of them learning to become literate. The teachers at this age expose them to books and let them use their senses to explore this medium.
As toddlers learn to express their thoughts and feelings in words they are more interested in sitting and listening to stories in small groups. The teachers in the classroom find ways to incorporate stories into a majority of the children’s day. Stories take on new meanings as they begin to act out the story line, as in “Going on a Bear Hunt.” Labels for the items in the classroom display both pictures and words so that the children begin to make the connection that letters make up words which have a specific meaning.
As preschoolers children move beyond just stories in their literacy experiences as they experience a variety of environmental print. This give children the opportunity to learn that words are not just found in stories, but that they have significance in their everyday surroundings. As they begin to write their names, stories and other words the children build upon the literacy skills that they developed as toddlers and infants. It is our goal that by the end of the preschool years, each child has the ability to write their name and several other words, have a basic understanding of the alphabet and phonics and knows several words by sight.