We're excited to welcome Sharee Pearson, educator and reading specialist, as our newest guest blogger. In this series of posts, she joins us to share her thoughts around early childhood development after 37 years of teaching little readers in the Atlanta school system.
Have you ever noticed that your young child recognizes the logos of favorite fast food restaurants or frequently visited stores? Were you disappointed when you realized that he or she could not name the letters or sounds in the words or read the logo when written on a piece of paper? Well, don't be dismayed. This is an important step toward your child's literacy.
Young children search constantly for familiarity and meaning in their environment. Whether it is the signs they observe while riding in the car, labels in the grocery store, or cereal boxes on the breakfast table, little ones are curious about patterns and meanings in their world.
Though your child may not "read" the logo in the conventional sense, he or she is looking at the configuration, or shape, of the word, noticing details, enjoying the pattern of colors, identifying likenesses and differences and, through repetitive encounters, assigning meaning to the logo. This develops an awareness in the child that meaning is created by graphic representation, the written word.
As a parent, you may wish to encourage interest in labels when visiting the grocery store, allow your child to help with grocery lists on a regular basis, include your child in reading recipes when cooking and discuss signs and logos when riding in the car. In addition, the following activities may be helpful to you as a parent, providing new ways to expose children to environmental print.
- Try playing "I Spy" while riding in the car or taking walks. This will keep your little one aware of his or her surroundings and looking for new sources of meaning.
- Use empty cereal, cracker, or other boxes or bags to create a make-believe restaurant or store. You may want to interact with your child as a customer or clerk while discussing characteristics of each logo. It is important to begin to talk about the difference between pictures and words.
- Cut out the fronts of cereal boxes, take pictures of familiar signs and logos and gather labels from other familiar items. You may wish to help your child sort these into categories. Most importantly, you child will have access to environmental print for independent play and exploration.
These activities may motivate your child to use and enjoy his or her new skills and build a larger base of knowledge for future reading. Do you have any experiences with environmental print and your reader? Share or ask questions in the comments!