As soon as a child can hold a crayon or pencil, he or she naturally wants to put marks on paper (or anything else!). By watching adults write children understand very early that the squiggly lines on a paper mean something. Young children will pretend "write" on a paper and ask, "what does this say?"
Understanding that printed words have meaning is an important reading skill. This skill is called "print awareness." Print awareness is when a child realizes, "I see letters!" and then "I see words!"
Some important print awareness skills are:
- print provides the reader with information
- print is read from left to right
- print is read from top to bottom
- letters are used to form words
- spaces appear between words
- words are on paper, in books and on many things in our everyday environment (like signs and menus)
Here is a video that helps explain print awareness:
To help your child learn about print awareness...read to them. (of course!) But there are other ways to help them learn print awareness. You are probably already teaching your child print awareness and you don't even know it. Here are some ideas:
- Draw attention to environmental print (posters, signs, labels)
- Try to label object in your children’s area (shelf, chair, computer, table, door, etc.)
- Explain and demonstrate how print works on the written page (title page, cover page, reading from left to right etc.)
- Model that all spoken words can be written or read
- Introduce some other forms of print such as a newspapers, magazine, mail etc.
- More ideas on the Pinterest Ready to Read Board: Practice - Reading & Letters
- Reading Rockets: Print Awareness
- Idaho Commission for Libraries: Print Awareness
- The Literacy Connection: Print Awareness
- Children's Learning Institute: Book and Print Awareness Checklist
- GoodReads: Print Awareness Books