Parents and caregivers have an important role to play in children’s literacy development both before and after they start school. The foundations of literacy – phonological awareness, vocabulary and oral language – begin to develop in the early years of life, before children begin formal reading instruction at school.

A child’s experiences and home environment during their early years of life have a strong and measurable effect on their literacy skills before they reach the classroom.

Many studies indicate that children’s emergent literacy skills significantly predict reading test scores in later years, reinforcing the importance of home environments on early literacy development and reading achievement.

Engaging children in play-based literacy activities encourages the development of phonological awareness, vocabulary and oral language, as well as other knowledge essential for learning to read.

For example, by playing word games, using rhymes to explore the sound structure of the English language, and teaching them about the alphabet, letter-sounds and print concepts through directed, play-based activities.

Parents can also enhance their children’s vocabulary and oral language through informal activities, such as providing access to books and educational toys, reading books together, and trips to the library or museums.

One of the most effective things parents can do is TALKING with children, listening, and answering their questions.

Once children start school, parents continue foster reading development by maintaining shared reading activities, ensuring children have reading material at the appropriate levels and following their progress.

The links provide some examples of activities that are free, easily accessible and enjoyable. They have been carefully selected to reflect the highest quality, up-to-date research evidence on early literacy development. There is also advice for parents who are concerned about their child’s reading and language development.