Exciting news! The new IRA/NAEYC position statement includes clear, concrete statements you can put to use every day as a basis for staff meetings, parent discussions, and teacher practice.

During the infant and toddler years, children need relationships with caring adults who engage in many one-to-one, face-to-face interactions to support oral language development and lay the foundation for later literacy learning. Important experiences and teaching behaviors include but are not limited to:

  • talking to babies and toddlers with simple language, frequent eye contact, and responsiveness to children's cues and language attempts.
  • frequently playing with, talking to, singing to, and doing fingerplays.
  • sharing cardboard books with babies and frequently reading to toddlers on the adult's lap or with one or two other children.
  • offering simple art materials such as crayons, markers, and large paper for toddlers to explore and manipulate.

During the preschool years, young children need developmentally appropriate experiences and teaching to support literacy learning. These include but are not limited to:

  • positive, nurturing relationships with adults who engage in responsive conversation with individual children, model reading and writing behavior, and foster children's interest in and enjoyment of reading and writing.
  • print-rich environments that provide opportunities and tools for children to see and use written language for a variety of purposes, with teachers drawing children's attention to specific letters and words.
  • adults' daily reading of high-quality books that positively reflect children's identity, home language, and culture.
  • opportunities for children to talk about what is read and to focus on the sounds and parts of language as well as the meaning.
  • teaching strategies and experiences that develop phonemic awareness, such as songs, fingerplays, games, poems, and stories in which there are phonemic patterns such as rhyme and alliteration.
  • opportunities to engage in play that incorporates literacy tools, such as writing grocery lists in dramatic play, making signs for block buildings, or using icons and words in exploring a computer game.
  • first-hand experiences that expand children's vocabulary, such as trips in the community and exposure to various tools, objects, and materials.