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Curriculum > Preschool > What We Teach > Language and Literacy

Language, Literacy, and Communication

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Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing

The connection between language and literacy is powerful. The HighScope Preschool Curriculum focuses on this connection by providing meaningful language and literacy experiences for children during every part of the daily routine. Since speaking listening, reading, and writing develop together, all these activities are promoted in HighScope early childhood programs.

During the past three decades, researchers have learned a great deal about how language and literacy develop in young children. Based on this research, HighScope has identified ten Key Developmental Indicators (KDIs) in language, literacy, and communication. These developmental milestones are the basis for planning literacy-related  experiences in HighScope preschool classrooms.

These milestones are form the content of the Growing Readers Early Literacy Curriculum, a set of activity cards for teacher-led small-group activities with an accompanying children's book set and our assessment of child progress in literacy — the  literacy component of the Preschool Child Observation Record (COR).

KDIs in Language, Literacy, & Communication

  1. Comprehension: Children understand language.
  2. Speaking: Children express themselves using language.
  3. Vocabulary: Children understand and use a variety of words and phrases.
  4. Phonological awareness: Children identify distinct sounds in spoken language.
  5. Alphabetic knowledge: Children identify letter names and their sounds.
  6. Reading: Children read for pleasure and information.
  7. Concepts about print: Children demonstrate knowledge about environmental print.
  8. Book knowledge: Children demonstrate knowledge about books.
  9. Writing: Children write for many different purposes.
  10. English language learning:  (If applicable) Children use English and their home language(s) (including sign language).

Here are some of the "lessons learned" from language and literacy research that are applied every day in HighScope preschool programs:

  • The acquisition of language and literacy skills is social. It happens because young children want to interact and communicate with others.
  • Literacy learning occurs during meaningful interactions, experiences, and activities.
  • Children differ in how — and how fast — they learn.
  • Some language and literacy learning happens naturally during play and everyday experiences, and some depends on explicit instruction from observant and sensitive adults.
  • Differences in children's home language and culture can affect literacy development. Classroom literacy experiences should allow for and value these differences.
  • Language and literacy are connected from infancy onward. Speaking, listening, reading, and writing develop concurrently (together) rather than sequentially (one after the other).

Early literacy strategies are discussed in depth in a range of HighScope publications and training activities. See the links on this page and the Early Literacy section of this website for more information on how HighScope can help you carry out effective research-based early literacy instruction in your early childhood program. 

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