Instructional Practices

Families and Communities Introduction

The Families and Communities category focuses on the development and promotion of early literacy. One of the keys to academic success is a solid starting point. In fact, a body of research on continuity during the transition from preschool to school has emphasized the role of early literacy skills as chief predictors of later achievements. Early literacy refers to children's knowledge regarding spoken and written language prior to formal schooling. Children's early literacy development occurs within their sociocultural context. The home and school are the closest contexts to the child, hence they play a significant role in children's early literacy development. In this category, readers can deepen their understanding of different aspects of early literacy and discover rich opportunities to include them within children's everyday activities.

Practices focused on reading and writing are "Shared Book Reading in Preschools" by Dorit Aram, "The Benefits of Informational Books" by Deborah Bergman Deitcher, "Writing in Early Education Settings" by Hope K. Gerde and Gary E. Bingham, and "Environmental Print in the Early Education System" by Yanling Zhou. Practices addressing early literacy development of children with special needs are "Early Literacy Supports for Children With Disabilities" by Lori Skibbe as well as "Bilingualism in Early Education" by Mila Schwartz.

Acknowledging the fact that technology has become as important a learning environment as the traditional ones, there are two practices referring to reading and writing: "Reading E-Books as Support for Language and Early Literacy" by Ofra Korat and "Electronic Literacy Games in Early Literacy Learning" by Michelle Neumann.

Understanding that early literacy development is a continuous process that develops in real-life settings through interactions with literacy materials and meaningful others at home and in schools, there are two practices that focus on families, their culture, and collaboration with the teachers: "The Power of Family Involvement in Literacy Learning" by Diane Lapp and "Diversity and Family Literacy" by Catherine Compton-Lilly and Jennifer D. Turner.

Together, this category provides a rich toolbox that will allow readers to better understand aspects of early literacy. The practices offer effective strategies to promote these literacy aspects, which form the building blocks of later academic achievements.

— Dorit Aram, Professor, Department of School Counseling and Professional Education, Tel Aviv University, Israel, and Amy Wilson Lopez, Associate Professor, Utah State University