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  • Writer's pictureDr. V.S. Gayathri

What Are The Signs Of Early Literacy Challenges?

According to experts, by age 2, a child’s brain is as active as an adult’s and by age 3 the brain is more than twice as active as an adult’s – and stays that way for the first 10 years of life.

We are born with billions of brain cells called neurons. The more stimulation we learn through our senses at an early age, the more pathways develop between the brain cells. Young children must develop early literacy skills in order to be successful with formal reading and writing in school.

Research shows that kids who start behind typically stay behind. Providing young children with opportunities to develop early literacy skills is important to their success in school, in their profession, and in their life ahead.

What is Early Literacy?

Early literacy can be defined as what children know about reading and writing before they actually learn to read and write. It is not teaching reading, drilling, or using flashcards. Instead, it is laying the foundation, so that your child has the necessary skills when they are developmentally ready to read.

So, failing and faltering in different early literacy skills can lead to learning difficulties. These early signs of learning disorders are often picked up in the first two years of school when they start classroom-based learning in reading, writing, and Maths.

Early literacy difficulties may include problems with speaking and listening, knowing letters, pronouncing letter sounds, and sounding out words.

If a school-age child has learning difficulties or a learning disorder, you might notice one or more of these signs:

  • disliking reading, writing, or Maths and/or finding reading, writing, or Maths hard

  • having trouble spelling common words, using rhyming words, or counting

  • finding it difficult to spot the sounds and syllables in words

  • find it difficult to link a number to the associated word like words and numerical

  • feeling less confident about schoolwork

What are some of the alarming signs of early literacy difficulties for a 3-4-year-old child?

  • The child is late to start talking and has difficulty learning and remembering new words

  • They omit words needed to make a complete sentence – for example, ‘I going to zoo’ rather than ‘I am going to the zoo’

  • He/She struggles to pronounce particular sounds

  • They don’t recognize any alphabet letters

  • The child has difficulty scribbling to make shapes that look like letters

  • They cannot string similar-sounding words together like cat, mat, bat

  • They can’t repeat at least parts of nursery rhymes

  • They can’t speak in phrases or sentences with three or more words

  • The child is difficult to be understood by strangers.

You might want to seek help or advice is your child:

  • can’t tell you what action is going on in a picture book – for example, running, barking, eating

  • can’t seem to tell the difference between the front and back of the book, or can’t tell which way is the right way up

  • can’t name simple objects in the books

  • forgets if they have read a book even if you show them the cover or give hints

  • doesn’t like listening when you read on a regular basis

What are some of the alarming signs of early literacy difficulties for a child who is 5 years or above?

Spoken Language Difficulties

The child might have trouble in:

· understanding simple instructions – for example, ‘Please keep the glass on the table’

· using new words when they speak

· framing longer sentences –sentences of eight or more words

· recognizing and coming up with words that start the same way like ‘car, cat, can’, and sounds that rhyme like ‘rat, mat, sat’

· breaking simple words into their parts (syllables or single sounds) like ‘ba-na-na’, or putting sounds together to make words

· using the correct grammar – for example, saying ‘She broked the glasses’ instead of ‘She broke the glasses’

· understanding the usage of comparison words like ‘heavier’, ‘stronger’, or ‘shorter’.

· telling or retelling stories in the right chronological order

Reading Difficulties

Your child:

  • doesn’t show interest in books and reading

  • mixes up the sequence of events in stories

  • can’t relate what happens in books to things in their own life

  • can’t remember words even if the words are repeated throughout the book

  • gets distracted when books are read aloud and doesn’t get meaning and pleasure from this activity

Interpretational Difficulties

When it comes to print if your child:

  • doesn’t know that words in print are different from pictures, and are there to be read

  • doesn’t know that each letter in the alphabet has a name and a sound

  • can’t name and say the sounds of at least eight letters

  • can’t break words apart into sounds

  • can’t blend sounds together to make words

  • doesn’t scribble their name, messages and so on – it doesn’t matter whether you can read what your child scribbles.

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