Print Awareness is one of the early literacy skills that is important for children to have in order to learn how to read. Print Awareness is a strong determinant of early reading achievement (Adams, 1990). Children with Print Awareness skills know that printed words have meanings and they can recognize print in their environment. Print Awareness/book knowledge also includes: knowing letters represent sounds, holding a book the right way, knowing how to turn pages, and knowing that more letters generally mean more sounds.
Children who come from print-rich homes where they are exposed to adult models are more likely to develop Print Awareness than their peers. I have an 18 month old and he is very interested in print. We have been bringing attention to printed words around us and he can now recognize print when he sees it, and he can name some of the letters as well. Here is what you can do with your toddlers to help them with Print Awareness.
1- When you are reading books to them, stop and point to one or two printed word(s) per page.
2- Pick a few objects around the house and label them. Print out the word and stick it on the object.
3- In the car point out to restaurant names, street signs, etc. (Don’t get distracted if you’re the driver 🙂
4- Bring attention to your shirt if you are wearing shirts with prints. My husband
does this with my son. He learned the letters “O” an “W” by reading his shirts.
5- Help your child hold the book the right way. Model model model, and bring attention to the way you are holding the book.
6- If your child is showing interest in the alphabet letters or the ABC song, purchase a deck of alphabet cards. You can find these at the dollar store. We found ours at Barnes and Noble and my son loves it. We go over 3-4 letters every day and he enjoys it.
7- We have lots of print around our house and they have really captured his attention lately. (his name in his room, quotes on canvas, picture frames with print, books in every room, etc.)
8- Exit signs are everywhere! When you see them, spell out the word E-X-I-T.
9- If/when you are eating out, show your toddlers the menu and help them understand that the words on the menu represent actual food.
10- Talk out loud when you’re writing something down. For example, if you are making a grocery list, allow your child to write down the grocery items with you hand-over-hand while you’re saying the words out loud.
So, pretty much when you’re with your toddler and you see print, bring attention to it if the time is right. They don’t need to be reading right now but they do need to be exposed to print and books 🙂 You can have so much fun with toddlers and print and it’s SO exciting when they can recognize letters. I understand that moms and dads of toddlers don’t have too much free time in their hands; it’s not easy to sit down and do alphabet cards with your toddler! I get it! You can use the above tips to teach your child Print Awareness when you’re out and about!
Adams, M.J. (1990). Beginning to read: Thinking and learning about print. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.