Early Literacy Skills in Diverse Populations

The acquisition of early literacy skills in children continues to attract researchers in the field as well as educators. Literacy and language development starts very early in life and it has been proven to be an important factor and a predictor in future academic achievement. Regular exposure to verbal and written language provides young children with the opportunities to begin acquiring a basic understanding of the concept of literacy and its functions. Through play and interaction with others, children learn to create meaning from language and communicate with others using verbal and non-verbal language, pictures, symbols and print. Environments rich with print, language, storytelling, books, technology, and writing materials allow children to experience the joy and power associated with reading and writing, while mastering basic concepts about print. The preschool environment is respectful and supportive of children’s cultural heritages and home languages while encouraging English language acquisition. The abilities to listen, speak, read, and write emerge interdependently in environments designed to meet each child’s unique skills, abilities, interests, and needs.  By providing a classroom filled with multicultural items, pictures, costumes teachers are respecting the rich diversity of the children and families in their classroom. Also in Spanish speaking communities diversity is addressed by providing a bilingual environment where the children feel understood and slowly introducing them to words and sound of the English language. In addition to the preschool environment the experience young children have with their respective families can influence their language and early literacy skills development as well. Oral language is the foundation for later literacy development. In a home where there are a lot of positive interactions, music, and books a rich literacy environment is created conducive to language and early literacy skills development. For diverse populations there are many books available that promote cultural integration as well as language acquisition. Parents or caregivers can easily access these books in their local libraries. When preschools provide quality bilingual education respecting the diversity of the children they are giving the child two very important skills: Knowledge and early literacy; the knowledge children acquire through their first language enhancement while they are being introduced to hearing and reading in English assists in their early Literacy development in their primary language which transfers to a second language easily. The reason being that children learn to read by reading, it doesn’t matter in what language. In conclusion, if the right tools are provided to accommodate diverse children and the instruction is tailored to their needs accompanied with a productive home environment the children will succeed once they enter kindergarten and beyond.