There are several types of literacy skills that, when learned in early childhood, provide the foundation for solid reading and writing capabilities. These basic skills make it possible for a person to process information so that language can be understood, written or described orally. Vocabulary skills, narrative and phonological skills as well as the ability to understand printed words are important. Reading comprehension skills and writing skills are also necessary, and it is a good sign if a young child shows interest in reading materials and in being read to.
Vocabulary is one of the most important literacy skills. Being able to read involves knowing thousands of words, and without this knowledge, following a story, whether it is fiction or nonfiction, is impossible. Learning vocabulary starts at an early age, and even preschool-age children can be taught words just by having older people point out items at home, in the store or outdoors and telling them what the items are.
Literacy skills include more than just knowing what things are. An essential skill is also the ability to know what letters and words sound like. This is important for reading as well as writing, and it even assists in the creative process because phonological skills make it possible to piece together parts of words and make rhymes. The ability to put word and sound elements together makes it easier to process reading material.
It also is important to know what each letter is, as well as how each can be arranged to form words. Letter recognition doesn’t always mean recognizing the sound of each, but these two concepts together improve literacy skills drastically. Understanding how print is organized on a page does this as well. In the English language, this means knowing the left-to-right and top-to-bottom organization of a narrative. Knowledge of sentence structure and punctuation are additional literacy elements that need to be learned and understood.
Without any of these literacy skills, reading comprehension is extremely difficult. This lack of understanding also makes it hard to tell a story, which is a skill in itself. Narrative skills rely on a person’s own internal skill set to say or to write what happened at a particular event. They also help children understand what they are learning when books are read to them or when they are being taught to read. All of these literacy skills can be applied to many analytical and computational tasks later on, and they are imperative for anyone to be able to read and write well.