There are a few terms that may sound very technical and can even be a little intimidating to parents, like print awareness. But in reality, most of these terms just sound intimidating. As a parent or a sibling, you are probably teaching some of these things to your child without even realising it.
If we talk about print awareness, you are modelling print awareness for your kids when you read a book to them. Print awareness is nothing complex but simply a fancy name for knowing how to use a book. You open the book, make sure it’s right-side up, read the print from left to right, associate the pictures with the story, etc.
In this article, we have covered everything about print awareness, from what it means, the importance of print awareness to activities and books that can help you to develop print awareness in your little one.
What Is Print Awareness?
Pick a book, magazine, newspaper, or box, or look at the billboards, hoardings, etc. What is common between all these things? It’s the print. Everything around us has a print on it. With the help of this print, we understand the information about the object or product. Therefore, print awareness helps us interpret all the available information. Without print awareness, we’ll be stuck in a world filled with letters and words that are everywhere.
Let’s look at why a child needs to understand print awareness and its concepts.
Why Do Children Need To Know About Print Awareness?
Children need to know about print awareness because of the following reasons:
- To know how to hold a book, turn its pages, read it from left to right and from the front of the book to the back of the book.
- To understand that different prints have different functions — a storybook tells a story, a recipe book gives directions for cooking, and so on.
- To know that the print is the source of information to gain knowledge.
How Do You Know Whether Your Child Has Developed Print Awareness?
Confused if your child has developed print awareness or not? Well, a child with print awareness:
- Will recognise the print or words in the environment.
- Will recognise the print has meaning or explains something.
- Will point to and name a book’s front cover, back cover, and pages.
- Will run their fingers along words from left to right.
- Will turn the pages of a book one at a time in the correct order.
- Will recognise that words are made of letters.
How To Help Your Child To Develop Print Awareness?
Let’s read about some print awareness activities for preschoolers that you can use to develop the same in your child.
1. Teach The Alphabet
You must teach your child the alphabet from a young age. When you familiarise your child with the letters, they’ll be interested in picking up a book and reading themselves. You can teach your child letters with the help of an alphabet book, alphabet poem or song, and ask them to create letter shapes using play dough.
2. Read To Children
Children have a habit of imitating their parents. Reading to children has numerous valuable benefits, and developing print awareness in children is one of them. To develop print awareness in your little one while reading to them, you can simply run a finger under a sentence you are reading, point out the title name and author name, allow your child to turn the page of the book, etc.
3. Read Different Print
Print awareness does not come from only reading books. You can help your child develop print awareness while going about your everyday life, like reading a restaurant menu to your kid, allowing your child to flip through a magazine while waiting at the dentist, showing your child road signs when you are out, pointing to the billboards or hoarding when stuck in a traffic jam, reading the name of the shop before entering it, and more.
4. Talk About Words
Talk to your child about words and letters, and tell them how a word is made up of letters. Explain this to them with the everyday things they see around them. Let’s look at a print awareness example for this. The word table starts with C, just like your name, Tara (your child’s name). The word table has 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 letters. Tara has 1, 2, 3, and 4 letters.
5. Draw & Tell
Ask your child to draw something and colour it. After your child has finished drawing and colouring, ask them to explain their drawing. Ask you child questions like “what have your drawn?”, “where did you see this?”, “why have you coloured this red?” etc. Write down what your child is explaining and then read it aloud to them. This way, you will connect your child’s spoken words to the print.
Books That Will Help To Build Print Awareness In Children
Teaching print awareness to your little one is not as challenging as your think. Books are a great way to teach children about print awareness. A good print awareness book will have large, clear and easy-to-read text with correct font, few words and repetitive text. This is because children under the age of five are still in the process of learning the shapes and orientation of letters. Therefore small and unclear text can lead to kids becoming uninterested in learning. Let’s look at the name of some books that can help to build print awareness in your little one.
1. Fire Engine No. 9 By Mike Austin
The book has clear and different-sized texts, which gives you a chance to play with different volumes and intonations.
2. Egg By Kevin Henkes
The book will help kids to identify the shapes that make letters, which is the first step to developing print awareness.
3. Trucks Go By Steve Light
The book has large, repetitive, and clearly written text to make the crucial connections between the shapes of letters on the page and the corresponding sounds these letters make.
4. Dream Big, Little One By Vashti Harrison
The book gives children the space to focus on the letters on each page.