Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

Print is all around us on signs, labels, storybooks, newspapers and magazines. Seeing print and seeing how adults react to print helps children recognize why print is important. Children with print awareness can begin to understand that written language is related to oral language.

Print awareness is ranked among the best predictors of early reading achievement as well as a child’s future reading abilities. Most children become aware of print long before they enter school. Some researchers have found that children as young as 2 years old can read environmental print. Environmental print is the print that is all around us everyday. Some examples include print on license plates, road signs and labels on the packages of the food we eat. Other researchers have shown that children often read signs rather than their print (like the McDonalds logo when you’re driving in a car).

Regardless, the ability to understand print doesn’t just happen. Children learn about print when adults and other children point out letters, words and other features of the print that surround children. When children understand “how” print works they will feel more comfortable handling books and be more likely to succeed in reading.

On the road to print awareness
Here are some indicators that a child is well on their way to an awareness of print:

- noticing print everywhere
- knowing how to follow the words on a page (left to right and top to bottom)
- knowing how to handle a book (how to hold it in their hands)
- knowing that sentences start with capital letters and end with punctuation marks
- knowing about authors’ and illustrators’ names
- knowing how to identify the front and back cover of a book

I mentioned some places adults can find environmental print to point out to children - license plates, road signs, and the packages of food we eat.

What are some examples of environmental print you use to draw a child's attention to print?


  1. it's funny that you say at 2 years old childern can read print like the macdonald's logo... my daughter, is almost 3 and she has been recoginzing the Macdonald's logo, Walmart Logo, Zellers logo, food basics logo... and more for a long i guess I take her shopping alot hehe.

  2. Anderson (2) can identify Tim Hortons and when we drive by he says "coffee" and "bits" :)

    Other than reading and repetition is there any way to help toddlers start to pronounce more clearly and start to form sentences? Anderson has lots of words in his vocabulary but they always require a mommy translation!

  3. Here are some suggestions for parents of 2 to 3 year olds:

    Model language
    - model the correcy way of saying words or phrases without correcting your child directly
    E.g. If he says, "Wheel falled off", you say, "
    Oh the wheel fell off your car. Do you need help fixing it?"

    Expand on what he says
    - add words and ideas to sentences your child says
    E.g. child says "big truck", you say, "Yes, it's a big red truck"

    Ask questions
    - simple questions can encourage your child to think and talk more

    By 2 years, children typically use 50-500 words, speak in 2 word sentences, and understand about 60% of what they hear.

    By 2 years, tongue-tippy sounds (n/t/d/s) start to emerge, while the lippy sounds (m/p/b/w) should be established.

    Here is a link to the Ontario government's speech developmental milestones from birth - 30 months: