Print Awareness

Male elementary school student studying with books and formula on the table

Print awareness is the first key component of learning how to read, and how to read successfully. Children notice print all around them, on signs, billboards, posters and of course, in books! However, it takes modeling and guided instruction for children to realize that print conveys meaning. By introducing your child to print awareness through regular activities such as those mentioned below, you are setting your child up to be a successful reader.
Children will learn that print serves a function and is connected to oral language.

Words are made of letters, and spaces separate words. When reading with your child, track each word with your finger or a pointer. This helps children recognize individual words, and also models that we read from left to right, and top to bottom. Children will learn that print follows this specific organizational pattern, which will aid their reading abilities later on. Model how to identify the front and back of a book, and how we turn pages when reading.

Discussing the different functions of print is another key component of print awareness. For example, when reading a book with your child, point out the author, illustrator and title. Explain what information this tells you about a book. Make sure to explain that books can tell us stories, or they can give us information about something. Introduce your child to other forms of print and the functions each serve. Menus, flyers, letters and posters are great examples of different print functions. Placing labels on household or classroom items is another great way to help children recognize that print conveys meaning.

Print awareness is not a skill that children are able to develop on their own. It takes regular, interactive practice and modeling with your child. However, simple activities such as reading with your child and exploring different forms of print as you come across it will help to ensure your child grows into a successful reader.

Print awareness makes children understand that there are different functions of print depending upon the context in which the print is appearing. For example, a book tells stories, a menu list food choices, a signboard announces about a restaurant or sign of danger. It tells that prints are organized in particular ways. For instance, it’s basic to know that prints are read from left to right and from top to bottom. It’s the understanding that words consist of alphabets and there are spaces between words. It is the earliest introduction of a child to literacy.

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