Laying a Firm Foundation: Embedding Evidence-Based Emergent Literacy Practices Into Early Intervention and Preschool Environments

    Purpose

    As part of this clinical forum on curriculum-based intervention, the goal of this tutorial is to share research about the importance of language and literacy foundations in natural environments during emergent literacy skill development, from infancy through preschool. Following an overview of intervention models in schools by Powell (2018), best practices at home, in child care, and in preschool settings are discussed. Speech-language pathologists in these settings will be provided a toolbox of best emergent literacy practices.

    Method

    A review of published literature in speech-language pathology, early intervention, early childhood education, and literacy was completed. Subsequently, an overview of the impact of early home and preschool literacy experiences are described. Research-based implementation of best practice is supported with examples of shared book reading and child-led literacy embedded in play within the coaching model of early intervention. Finally, various aspects of emergent literacy skill development in the preschool years are discussed. These include phonemic awareness, print/alphabet awareness, oral language skills, and embedded/explicit literacy.

    Results

    Research indicates that rich home literacy environments and exposure to rich oral language provide an important foundation for the more structured literacy environments of school. Furthermore, there is a wealth of evidence to support a variety of direct and indirect intervention practices in the home, child care, and preschool contexts to support and enhance all aspects of oral and written literacy.

    Conclusions

    Application of this “toolbox” of strategies should enable speech-language pathologists to address the prevention and intervention of literacy deficits within multiple environments during book and play activities. Additionally, clinicians will have techniques to share with parents, child care providers, and preschool teachers for evidence-based literacy instruction within all settings during typical daily activities.

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