What is Emergent Literacy?

Emergent literacy is mostly associated with the literary development of a child from when they are born until they begin schooling. Despite an inability to read or to write, many children are exposed to these skills from an incredibly early age - with bedtime stories to speaking skills all preparing a child for the carefully crafted learning plans that they will begin from the age of four or five.

Emergent literacy was originally conceived by Marie Clay as a way to convey this process of development. The term is directly connected to a number of academic studies into how children progress through their early years. Amongst experts, the general consensus that children in the introductory stages of the education system can perform better if they were exposed to books appropriate to their skill level and understanding early on.

Of course, reading is only one component of what emergent literacy stands for. All of the time, young children listen and interact with those around them as their vocabulary develops - and this sets the foundations for how they will progress when they start their education. Prolonged exposure to speaking, listening, writing or reading; a combination; or all elements of literacy, can generally support the ability of the child in question.

Writing skills do not necessarily have to be gathered through writing down letters, words or simple sentences. With young people being naturally creative, even scribbling can allow them to become acquainted with the utensils that we use to communicate through writing. Writing can usually come before reading because of how simple it can be to begin. With the frequent consumption of books, or various words around them, they will try to replicate this in their writing work. Despite some efforts being seemingly nonsensical or unorganized, it is all a delicate process which is emergent literacy in motion.

Reading in particular can be enhanced when parents try to discover a book that their children love. A lot of the time, a favorite read will become part of the routine at bedtime or during the day. As a child becomes more familiar with the storyline and the pages within the book, they will associate the words they are hearing with the words that they see on the page. One thing which can catalyze this process can be when parents point to words whilst they are being read - alternatively, explaining definitions of words which might be around them in their everyday life can also strengthen vocabulary.

Books, magazines and other forms of media can all be extremely useful in emergent literacy - and you can capture your child's imagination by ensuring that it is rich with illustrations and color. This, when combined with your encouragement for your child to draw, doodle and scribble will ensure that their emergent literacy stages are positive, and that they are fully prepared for the schooling journey which is ahead of them. Every child is different, and so it can be vital for you to align your expectations to how your child is progressing.