In this chapter, we will focus on ways teachers can help parents to engage in activities that will foster children’s emergent literacy skills in phonemic awareness, letter recognition, and concepts about print. These emergent
literacy skills fall into Chall’s (1996) fi rst stage of reading development, Stage 0, Prereading. As she explains,
From birth until the beginning of formal education, children living in a literate culture with an alphabetic writing system accumulate a fund of knowledge about letters, various aspects of languagesyntax and words. And they gain some insights into the nature of words: that some sound the same at their ends or beginnings (rhyme and alliteration), that they can be broken into parts, and that the parts can be put together (synthesized, blended) to form whole words. (p. 13)
Children acquire much of the knowledge for Chall’s Prereading stage through everyday language and literacy experiences with their family and in their communities. However, this emerging knowledge will differ based on the types of experiences children have. Therefore, when they enter kindergarten, they will bring different knowledge about language, words, and letters with them to the classroom. As the teacher, you can help them build on this knowledge not only through your classroom instruction but also through parent support. In other words, you can recruit parents’ help by encouraging them to continue their support of their child’s learning. You can support these out-of-school efforts by recommending enjoyable reading, language and letter activities parents can do with their children in the context of their everyday lives. These experiences, along with the activities suggested in the other chapters, will help you to maximize children’s language arts learning.