‘N’ is for Nathan!

This is what my son, Nathan, 2.5 years old, squeals to me every time he spots the letter ‘n’ in print – “N is for Nathan!”. Why does he say that, you ask? He is developing an understanding of print concepts.

What are print concepts?

Print concepts is an awareness of written language in our everyday environment. This can include knowing the difference between letters, words, punctuation, and directionality.

A child who is developing concepts of print can:

  • Identify writing in a picture or poster
  • Shows awareness that print relates to spoken language
  • Recognises the meaning of some letters and symbols, e.g., common logos, street signs
  • Awareness that print provides the reader with a message or information
  • What a letter is
  • What a word is
  • What a sentence is
  • That there are spaces between words
  • That sentences start with capitals
  • What various punctuation marks (.,?!””) and when they are used
  • That oral (spoken) language can be written and then read
  • That print provides the reader with a message or information

In the instance of my son, he is showing signs of written language awareness. He understands that print relates to spoken language. He can identify writing in a picture/book/poster.

Why is it important to reading?

Print awareness is a child’s earliest understanding that written language carries meaning. The foundation of all other literacy learning builds upon this knowledge.

Learning print concepts at an early age positively influences children’s language development and emergence as readers and writers (Reutzel & Cooter, 2004).

How can I help?

How do children learn print concepts?

  • From their environments (signs, logos, cereal boxes).
  • Through seeing and hearing adult’s model reading and writing (Heroman & Jones, 2004).
  • Through repeated exposure to books and various types of print (Strickland & Schickendanz, 2004).

You may have be doing some of this with your child already!

Simply start by pointing out concepts of books (e.g., front cover, author, illustrator, top and bottom of the page, where you should begin reading). Use you or your child’s finger to point to text as your read. This reinforces the concept of words and sentences and shows your child that we read from left to right and from top to bottom.

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click clack moo 2

Do Little Birdie Books book boxes have activities for print concepts?

Yes we most definitely do! One of our play categories is PrintPLAY – this is where we provide you with pretend play printables so that you and your child can engage in role play while learning about print.

Make sure you follow us on Instagram and Facebook for sneak peeks at PrintPLAY activities in upcoming boxes!

Heroman, C., & Jones, C. (2004). Literacy: The creative curriculum approach.
Washington DC: Teaching Strategies.
Reutzel, R., and Cooter, R.B. 2004. Teaching Children to Read, Putting the Pieces Together, 4th edition.
Strickland, Dorothy S., and Judith A. Schickedanz. 2004. Learning about Print in Preschool: Working with Letters, Words, and Beginning Links with Phonemic Awareness. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
This post was originally published on 9 November 2017.

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