Create A Learning & Literacy Environment For Young Children

Beginning readers need to immerse themselves in all kinds of reading activities.

Young children, especially preschoolers and kindergartners, are in the beginning stages of literacy and oral language development. They need a learning environment that continually reinforces direct instruction, and they should be in print-rich surroundings that increase phonological awareness. Don’t just keep books on the shelves. Allow students easy access to literary materials so they will become comfortable exploring and learning new things. A literacy-rich classroom improves the overall academic growth of children by helping them understand the value of reading in all subjects and building their vocabulary and language skills.


1. Expose students to many types of print. Reading material should always be available. Centrally locate the classroom library, and supply it with fiction and nonfiction texts. Help children understand how written language is used in everyday life by keeping phone books, menus and newspapers in the room for them to examine.

2. Read stories or informational texts that supplement math, science and social studies units to integrate literacy across the curriculum. Use graphic organizers in science experiments to teach sequencing. When introducing addition, display number words and mathematical terms so kids can see the phonetic representations of the calculations they are performing.

3. Select materials based on children’s needs and abilities. Place leveled texts in the classroom library so all kids can read successfully. Use manipulatives such as plastic letter tiles and alphabet picture cards to help struggling readers decode words. Borrow more complex books from upper-grade teachers to challenge advanced students.

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4. Read aloud to the class every day. Your students are encouraged by personal participation in literacy instruction. When reading fairy tales or or fables, model expression by altering your voice to reflect the characters. Have an informal reading time at least twice a week when everyone, including yourself, reads silently for pleasure for 30 minutes.

5. Use technology to enhance the literacy experience. Pamela Solvie, a former first-grade teacher, used a digital whiteboard as part of her reading instruction. The whiteboard is an electronic dry-erase board on which students and teacher can write. Use this device to teach text structure, phonics and vocabulary.