Earlier this year, we wrote an article about Union Memorial School’s Readers’ Teas to celebrate successes with their emergent reading program. In that article, we described briefly what emergent reading is; here, as part of our Primer Series, let’s delve a bit further into what emergent reading is and why it is important.
Simply put, research in the areas of child development, psychology, education, and linguistics indicates that children begin acquiring language skills from birth—and they begin acquiring reading and writing skills well before they are able to read and write in the conventional sense. In essence, children gradually develop literacy starting from the very beginnings of their lives rather than later on as was previously believed—and this research serves to challenge assumptions about reading and writing and also the methods by which children have been taught to read and write in the past.
An important concept in emergent literacy is that all parts of language—speaking, listening, reading, writing, and viewing—are interrelated. As such, reading and writing skills develop concurrently—and that development is a process through which children travel in different stages and at different ages.
As a simple example, an emergent reader may begin by learning to enjoy story time with his or her caregivers and by learning to differentiate between books and toys. From there, he or she will learn to turn pages or move parts of the books, responding to the story and pictures by pointing and vocalizing. As his or her comprehension increases, the emergent reader begins to develop concepts about the words using clues from the pictures. From there, he or she begins to focus upon reading words by drawing upon knowledge of phonics and repetitive word recognition. It is through this type of gradual process that many children learn about reading and writing.
Emergent reading is important because children who find reading enjoyable will pursue it even if the material is challenging to them. Furthermore, frequent readers tend to develop richer vocabularies. Since studies have demonstrated that vocabulary largely predicts reading comprehension and overall academic achievement, children with such vocabularies are typically shown to be at a significant educational advantage.
These theories surrounding literacy skills acquisition have significantly altered the old-school methods of teaching reading, which therefore impacts the overall educational process. If you are interested in learning more about CSD’s emergent reading programs, please contact Union Memorial School or Porters Point School.
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