Early Literacy Development

Stages of Early Literacy Development:

Emergent - Early - Early Fluent - Fluent

The terms beginning reading and writing or early literacy development actually include several phases of learning through which children progress in different ways and tempos. It is an exciting and complex process that usually occurs between the ages 5 through 8. As in most other areas of development, all children do not follow one clear sequential path in lock-step. Rather, individual children may take a variety of routes to reading and writing mastery. Literacy learning is circular or "recursive"; learners may move forward in some areas and seem to step back as they consolidate understanding in others. Thus, reading and writing may not develop evenly. A child may be fluent in one area and emergent in another. Ultimately however, whatever the timetable or path, the goals are the same for all:

  • to become fluent and efficient readers and writers who can make sense of and convey meaning in written language;
  • to become thinkers and communicators who are actively reviewing and analyzing information;
  • to enjoy reading and writing; and,
  • to feel successful as users of literacy for a variety of purposes.

NOTE: Keep in mind that the grade levels associated with each phase described below are only approximate. In each grade there are likely to be children in all phases of literacy acquisition. Also, remember that within each phase there may be a range of learners who are developing in different ways.