Child Care And The Importance Of Books: What Parents Need To Know

Why are books an important part of your preschooler's day in child care? Take a look at what parents need to know about daycare, story-times, book centers, and early literacy in the educational environment.

Can Preschoolers Read?

The answer to this question is yes—and no. Preschoolers are emergent readers. This means they are building foundational or basic skills that will help them to read simple words right now and read more complex texts as they grow and develop. As your child moves into the preschool years they will begin to recognize and identify letters, recall and retell stories, imitate reading books (this includes correct book-handling skills), match some letters with their sounds, and identify some simple or sight words.

Even though preschoolers are developing the skills that they will need to read, they aren't usually ready to read full sentences, blocks of text, or books on their own. But this shouldn't stop them from exploring books, listening to stories, or practicing emerging literacy skills. The more exposure your child has to books, verbal stories, and other similar literacy-related activities, the more they'll enjoy reading.

What Types of Reading Activities Happen In the Daycare Classroom?

The specific reading and literacy-based activities will depend on the program your child is in, the teacher's lesson plans, and the center's curriculum. Common reading activities that happen in the pre-k setting include group story times (where the teacher reads a picture book with the children in an interactive, back-and-forth, or question-and-answer way), and independent reading times (where the children can practice handling books correctly, identifying letters, and exploring the artwork inside).

Literacy activities can also extend into other areas, such as the creative arts. This could include story-telling, acting out stories or books (as a formal production or as a less formal activity in pretend play), and creating book-related artwork.

Can Early Literacy Activities Help Preschoolers Prepare for Kindergarten?

Yes, the story-time and other literacy-related activities that your child does in their daycare center (and at home) can help them to prepare for kindergarten. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), one in three children don't have the language skills needed for kindergarten. This makes an early start to early literacy learning important for every child.

The child care center setting provides preschoolers with the exposure to books, stories, and literacy activities necessary to start formal schooling (kindergarten) with the skills and knowledge they'll need to learn how to read. From stories that the teacher reads during circle time to choosing books to page through on their own during free play time, your child will get plenty of chances to explore words, letters, and early literacy concepts in daycare.

The familiarity that they'll have with the printed page can make it easier to transition into kindergarten-level language and literacy lessons in elementary school. This can have academic benefits during the kindergarten year and well beyond (into elementary, middle, and high school). For more information on child care, contact a professional near you.