Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Playing is Literacy: Building the Skills

Have you ever wondered when your preschool or kindergarten child will really start to read? Do you worry about how to get them off on the right foot for kindergarten? How can you help them develop those skills that they need to learn to read?

If your child plays, she is already working on literacy skills! Children play constantly, and many of their natural play activities are the building blocks to skills necessary for reading and writing. Below is a list of some play activities during which children are developing their early literacy skills.
-Playing with Legos, doing puzzles, picking up small objects builds toward
correctly holding a pencil to write

-Pretend play such as "house" and "restauran
t," pretending that a doll is talking
builds toward vocabulary development

-Creating a castle with blocks, using blocks as a road for cars, using a block as a phone
builds toward
understanding of letters as symbols standing for sounds

-Watching bubbles float through the air builds toward being able
move eyes across a page to read

Many preschools use "play-based learning," which means that a large part of the children's day is spent doing free play or free choice time - children are able to choose materials and activities around the room to fill their time. You may wonder why teachers are not spending more time using direct instruction, but the simple answer is that in the years of early childhood, play is the best way for children to learn. And, in a good preschool, teachers will provide opportunities for more structured activities where children will also develop their literacy and other academic skills.

So the next time your child tells you he is an astronaut, flying to the moon in his rocket ship made of blocks, remember that this is building his literacy skills.


  1. Children can learn so much from exploring and playing. Children grow and develop during these times. Free play gives a lot of opportunities for children to develop skills that will effect their literacy journey.

  2. A free choice time is one of the most important things to children. It will give children to explore their experience and also provide a lot of opportunities. As children are playing, they will learn so much things from peers, toys, books, plays, and so on.

  3. It is easy to forget that play is an important part of learning literacy for a child. Literacy is not only learning how to read a book or recognize numbers from letters, it is also learning to make connections in the world around you. Children need to take the time to play and learn on their own rather than having an entirely structured day.

  4. You make a wonderful point that literacy is a process, and that there is no template for how it will become clearly developed. Children who are exposed to opportunities to play and explore are using early literacy skills. These are chances for them to be in conversation, use new vocabulary, and start to tune their storytelling skills and creativity. Parents can sometimes be overwhelmed by the timeline of development, but should be encouraged to enjoy these innocent and pure times with their children.

  5. It is so important for parents to understand that play should be encouraged and that it is a critical part of literacy development. This is a step that should be enriched by parents and teachers, not disregarded because parents are looking for them to begin progressing more "school-like" levels of literacy.