Pre-K Early Literacy

A Look at Literacy Inside a Pre-K Classroom 
Posted on 03/31/2023
Pre-K Student Playing with Learning Blocks

Learning to read, talk and, most importantly, play is so crucial in the first years of a child’s life. Language and literacy development begins at birth and provides the foundation for a child’s success in school. It encompasses the skills related to listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Girl Smiling and DancingYou may be familiar with the term “early literacy” but exactly is it?” Early literacy is defined as the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that come before, and lead up, to conventional reading and writing.

In Metro Schools Pre-K Programs, early literacy is embedded throughout a student’s day. Shameka Fentress, an MNPS Pre-K teacher at Cambridge Early Learning Center, incorporates early literacy in all parts of the day. It begins when students arrive at school and ends when they say goodbyes.

Fentress provided a closer look at what early literacy looks like in an MNPS Pre-K classroom.

Question of the Day

  • “Literacy instructions begins at the start of each day and incorporates families into the learning process through the “Question of the Day,” said Fentress.
  • Parents read the daily question to their child and help them find the answer that best supports their child’s thinking. Students then discuss the question in their classroom, which encourages rich student-led conversations while the teacher serves as the facilitator in these discussions.

Morning Meeting

“Morning Meeting is a part of our day that usually sets the tone for learning and creating a sense of community among students,” said Fentress

  • During Morning Meeting, games, songs, charts and writings are incorporated into each lesson to increase students’ phonetic (letter identification) and phonemic awareness (the sounds of language such as rhyming and alliteration) skills.
  • Each morning, teachers lead students in lessons integrating letters and sounds as they look for hidden letters in their Morning Message – a message written by the teacher and the student by working together to compile a message that tells what is happening that day in the classroom.

Reading Experiences

  • Formal reading instruction takes place two times a day, every single school day and involves reading books and poems. Students may even see props and puppets during interactive read-alouds! Students even practice story retelling with the props and create their own puppets to retell familiar stories.

Fentress noted that teachers play an important role in helping students develop early literacy skills, but that the classroom itself is an important piece in how students develop literacy skills. Young learners are eager to absorb as much information as possible – and that includes from signs, posters and other literature posted around classrooms and schools.
Teacher reading book
To paint a picture of Fentress’ colorful classroom: posters are prominently displayed across the room, every name of every student is posted above their cubbies, engaging and environmental prints are hung throughout the room to encourage healthy habits. Play-based activity centers are set up around the room to truly blend learning with play. The literacy experience is embedded in each center and include fun activities like writing a grocery lists in the dramatic play center, drawing and labeling signs for the blocks center, and writing letters for friends and family members in the writing center. Writing materials and books are placed around the room to encourage student exploration with text and writing while they engage in play.

The learning doesn’t have to stop in the classroom, though. Families can also support early literacy in their home – and as a part of their every day routines.

“We encourage families to provide lots of opportunities at home for your child to be exposed to books, writing, letter identification, letter-sound recognition, and early reading activities,” Fentress said.

Here are a few tips you can integrate into your household to support reading and writing at home:

  • Read with your child daily. As you read with your child, ask questions about the story and pictures in the book. This small action has big results: this will help encourage conversation and develop language skills your child will need for school while fostering a love for reading.
  • Provide children with journals and writing materials to allow students to write things they see around the house, like their own names and objects around the house.
  • Play games together, such as Letter Match, Go Fish, Letter Bingo, Classification Sort and Match.
  • If your family speaks another language at home other than English, have fun with books - both in your home language and English. There are online books and stories that will read texts in English. Wordless picture books (books with only pictures) are also a fun way to explore reading. The child tells the story as they see it, and the parent asks questions, or the parent might describe the pictures in detail while introducing descriptive vocabulary.

Apply for Pre-K in Three Easy Steps 

The application process for MNPS Pre-K is a little different than our traditional K-12 enrollment, but it’s still an easy process that can be completed completely online in three easy steps.

  1. Gather your required documents, including a birth certificate, proof of residency, and a parent/guardian ID.
  2. Create an account in the MNPS Family Portal and obtain a Student ID number for your future Pre-K student.
  3. Submit your Pre-K Application online and then check your email for next steps!

If you would prefer to apply for Pre-K in person, you can do that at one of our eight Enrollment Centers. If you need help, you can call our Family Information Center at 615-259-INFO.

Families who submit applications before 3:30 p.m. CST will be included in that initial March 31 selection process. We still encourage families to apply after March 31. 

Pre-K Program Fee Payment

Review the Pre-K Program Fee webpage for information on Pre-K program fees, payment information, submitting an online payment and the tuition assistance program.

Group of smiling children

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