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Print and Alphabet Knowledge: Improve

Preschoolers

Reflecting on and improving your skills and knowledge to help children understand how print is used and how it works, identify alphabet letters, and produce the correct sounds associated with letters is important work. Here are some ideas you can try with your coach or supervisor to build your teaching practices in this area:

Planning Goals and Action Steps

  • Work with your coach or supervisor to identify the teaching practices you want to build and strengthen. Here are some practices that help preschoolers understand how print is used and how it works, identify alphabet letters, and produce the correct sounds associated with some letters.1
    • Use children’s printed names as labels and to support routines.
    • Provide access to alphabet letters in a variety of contexts.
    • Focus on letters and letter sounds in alphabet books and posters.
    • Use activities and games to interest children in letter matching and naming (e.g., playing letter bingo in small groups).
    • Use everyday opportunities to model attending to print details in words; for example:
      • Gesture specifically to print in book and poem titles
      • Show that print in English and many other languages is read left to right and from top to bottom
      • Identify book parts and features such as the front and back covers, title, author, and illustrator
    • Read books with predictable patterns and include them in the library and listening areas.
  • These practices may also be used to support dual language learners (DLLs) in continuing to develop their home language and to acquire English. For more information, see:
  • In home-based programs, consider identifying and including broader relationship-building practices such as those described in Building Partnerships: Guide to Developing Relationships with Families.
  • Create an action plan with timelines to help you use the practices consistently and effectively.

Focused Observation

  • Revisit the teaching practice that you outlined in your planning goals and action steps with your coach/supervisor. Together, plan for and schedule an observation where they can focus on how you implement the practices you’ve identified.
    • For example, if you chose to focus on the practice, Use activities and games to interest children in letter matching and naming, you might ask your coach/supervisor to provide resources on embedding such activities into your daily schedule. When you are ready to try these out, ask him to observe and provide feedback on your interactions with children during these activities.
  • In home-based programs, observations may focus on how the home visitor engages with parents to identify, adapt, and use the identified teaching and relationship-building practices. They may also focus on how you model the practices.

Reflection and Feedback

  • What went well? What did you do? How did the child/children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? How did their reaction support the relationship with their child? Their child’s ability to understand how print is used and how it works, identify alphabet letters in English and home language, as appropriate, and produce the correct sounds associated with some letters in English and home language, as appropriate?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • What seemed challenging? What did you do? How did the child/children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? Their child?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • Did your coach/supervisor offer feedback from the observation that was surprising? What supports do you need from her to refine and strengthen the practice? What else would help you strengthen the practice?
  • What would you do differently if you were to use this practice again?
  • What do you hope the child/children/parents will gain by using this practice? How will you know?

1California Department of Education, California Preschool Curriculum Framework Volume 1 (Sacramento, CA: California Department of Education, 2010), 142–145, Alphabetics and Word/Print Recognition, http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/re/documents/psframeworkkvol1.pdf [PDF, 8.8MB].

Topic:School Readiness

Resource Type: Article

Last Updated: June 3, 2018