The process of literacy development in children typically occurs in five phases, the first one being the development of awareness and exploration. As its title suggests, in the specified stage, children tend to explore the language, starting with the perception of the spoken word from their parents and people around them to building their vocabulary by reading books (Lai 110). The question that children tend to ask during the stage of awareness and exploration are the main signifiers of the literacy development process being launched. As a rule, young children tend to ask about the names of objects to build their vocabulary and gain the basic knowledge required for the foundation of literacy development (Lai 110).
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The second phase, known as experimental reading and writing, can be observed when children reach the preschool age. At the given point of their development, they take particular interest in nursery rhymes and similar sources of learning to gain new vocabulary, as well as observe and understand how language is used. While children may prefer pictures in books to the actual process of reading, the latter should be encouraged by parents (Cooper et al. 184). In addition, children can show enthusiasm for learning by attempting to write letters for the first time or trying to spell their names (Cooper et al. 184). Any writing or reading endeavors should be highly encouraged by adults to prompt early learning.
As soon as children learn about letters and their use and become comfortable with the idea of using letters to formulate their ideas, they transition to the third phase of literacy development, which is known as early reading and writing stage. During the third stage, children enter the realm of the academic environment by enrolling in preschool. They learn key aspects of phonics and word building, becoming capable of writing phonetically (Lai 111). Remarkably, children are very likely to make numerous mistakes in spelling since they will rely on the sound of the word rather than its epistemology (Lai 112). However, parents and teachers should be delicate about correcting these mistakes not to avert a child from learning.
As a child grows to start their second or third grade, they enter the fourth stage of language development, which is known as the traditional reading and writing phase. During the identified period of their literacy development, young learners can comprehend written discourse and interpret it without the help of adults (Cooper et al. 186). Moreover, they can add their perspective to the narrative, thus contributing to its development (Cooper et al. 187). The ability to locate the theme and thesis statement of a story are characteristic of the specified phase of literacy development. Moreover, children develop the ability to relate to the stories that they read and draw parallels between these stories and their own life.
Finally, the fifth stage of literacy development starts once children gain the skills of fluent reading and no longer require the support of educators or parents to understand the meaning of the narrative that they read. Gaining independence in reading and the ability to communicate complex ideas through writing are two essential characteristics of the described stage (Lai 113). It is noteworthy that the enthusiasm toward reading and learning, in general, may not be observed throughout the rest of a child’s development. However, the basic literacy skills that a child gains during the fifth stage will not disappear; instead, it will provide the platform for future learning.
Cooper, David, et al. Literacy: Helping Students Construct Meaning. 10th ed., Cengage Learning, 2016.
Lai, Chun. Autonomous Language Learning with Technology: Beyond the Classroom. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017.