5 Ways to Impact Emergent Literacy in Kinder

When a kindergartener walks into the classroom, what kind of reading skills do expect them to have? From the time they were born all the way through preschool, students have been developing literacy skills. While they may not be able to read and write per se, they do have some level of emergent literacy skill developed before you even show them that first sight word.  

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What is Emergent Literacy? 

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), “children start to learn language from the day they are born.” When you or a parent introduces a new book to a child, emergent literacy skills are being developed. 

Emergent literacy refers to the skills a student has in terms of reading and writing when they come into the classroom. Because of the differences in family and home life, you will probably get a variety of levels coming into your classroom. 

Because you will have a variety of levels coming into your room, you will want to foster emergent literacy as much as you can. You will want to set up your classroom in such a way that pushes the students who have higher emergent literacy skills and to help those who may be a bit behind. How can we do this? Here are 5 different strategies you can use to impact emergent literacy. 

Strategy 1: First this…then 

One of the best things that you can do is establish a routine in your classroom. When students know what is going to happen throughout the day, their brains get used to it and they experience less anxiety. 

This does not mean every day needs to be exactly the same, but every event should have a set procedure. For example, if you are teaching new sounds and new sight words, you might do the following steps every time: 

  • Teach the phonics of the letters
  • Brainstorm words 
  • Introduce new sight words
  • Do a sight word scavenger hunt with a text 

Kindergarteners are new to the whole concept of school, so nerves are often prevalent. By lowering their stress level through routine, you are creating a positive environment for students to learn in. 

Strategy 2: Make Reading Meaningful

No matter who you are, you understand something you read better if you have some sort of connection to it. Try to pick stories and text that the students can relate to. This will increase their understanding making it easier to focus on sight words and vocabulary words instead of focusing on understanding something foreign to them. 

Strategy 3: Hands on Learning

Another great way to enhance eminent literacy skills in the classroom is to take it off the page. If you are reading about how to do something, challenge students to complete that task. This can be something fun like making slime or Jello for science class. No matter what it is, students will be able to read the directions, find their sight words, and see WHY reading is so important. If reading does nothing else, it can teach you how to make something awesome. This positive reinforcement will encourage students to keep developing those skills and it will help those who are visual learners. 

Strategy 4: Make it Fun!

Learning how to read and write can be frustrating for students especially if they don’t have a lot of exposure to it outside of the classroom. One way to help develop emergent literacy is to create a matching game with pictures. Use your sight words and add a picture to represent it. Have students play a matching game. You can also play a BUMP game that would promote literacy as well. Everyone likes to have fun so adding a game to your day can be a good way to develop emergent literacy skills. 

Strategy 5: Utilize Centers

Another great way to increase emergent literacy skills is to differentiate their exposure to the different skills. You can use literacy centers to help your students learn emergent literacy skills every day. Literacy centers are great for this because each center can focus in on a different skill or they each focus on a different way to learn that skill. Regardless how you use centers, they are great for teaching new skills as well as reinforcing new and old skills. 

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No matter what level your kindergarten students are walking in at, their emergent literacy skills will still need to be nurtured. Using the five strategies above will help boost these essential skills and in doing so their reading skills will increase as well. Talk about a great package deal. 


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