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A glimpse into the science of early reading skills

Our kindergarten classes have been working on their environmental print unit, and it has been exciting to see parents sending in images of the signs and symbols that their little ones are able to “read,” without even knowing that they are reading! When children can recognize the black-on-yellow print of “Cheerios,” or tell you that you just drove past Dairy Queen, these are often the first instances of beginning reading? Being able to identify well-known items or places by recognizing the colour, shapes, and letters that make up logos and symbols indicates that a child is aware of the existence and importance of the text they encounter throughout the day. This is a step toward understanding that letters represent sounds that come together to make words, which represent meaning. This is a complex and important cognitive milestone.

The links below share more about the role of environmental print, and how parents and teachers can capitalize on children’s interest in the symbols they see around them:

How Environmental Print Can Help Build Early Reading Skills (Parents Canada):  

(Please note that the last section of this article recommends some online resources and apps that I have not explored myself, and in general, screen-based technologies are not the most effective tools for young learners.)

Children Write Their World: Environmental Print as a Teaching Tool (Dimensions of Early Childhood):  

Amy Murray
Principal of Early Childhood Education (ECE)
Calgary French & International School