What is Literacy?
We all have a fundamental understanding of what literacy means. Webster’s defines literacy or literate to mean 1) Educated, cultured 2) able to read and write 3) versed in literature 4) having knowledge or competence…
That certainly clears things up!
We must understand that there is much more to literacy than the ability to read and write. Literacy experts state the essential elements that define a “literate” student include :
Phonology: the ability to recognize and reproduce speech sounds.
Orthography: the ability to recognize and reproduce spelling patterns.
Semantics: the ability to pick out the meaning of words.
Morphology: the ability to recognize and reproduce the patterns of word formations.
These factors are the basic building blocks for children learning to read and write. They are, however, just the beginning of what must be a deeper and more thorough development of literacy education.
Today, our concept and definition must include a much broader and richer sense of abilities and markers to fully define what literacy means and what a fully literate student must perform and understand. This definition of “literacy” is simply the groundwork to be established. Then we need to build the more advanced skills of literacy.
While a child may meet every one of the above factors, they still may not be able to read a story and explain the characters, the context, or the meaning of the story. Yet by the traditional literacy definition, they are entirely literate!
As we can see, literacy goes much deeper than the basic mechanics of reading and writing. It’s vital the basic mechanics be mastered at a young age and then nurtured and developed further to include literacy skills. Some of these skills involve the ability to communicate, reason, and think critically
What do you think that “Critical Skill” is? Communication!
Communication Skills – Verbal and Written
Critical thinking and Reasoning
At the college level, The Association of American Colleges and Universities echoed this sentiment. Their survey found, 93% of employers said, “A demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is important.”
Start developing these skills NOW, don’t wait till your child is in high school, these skills can be developed and nurtured at a young age.
Next week I’ll discuss some things we can do as parents to help our children develop these critical skills.