Some Helpful Education Terms to Know

I come from a long line of teachers.  Two of my grandparents were teacher and my mom’s a teacher.  Teaching is in my blood.  My first real job was working as an instructional assistant for a 1st grade class summer school.  I helped teach reading and writing to special needs kids.  When you take a drive into the world of early childhood education you might be a little confused about some of the terms day care providers and preschool teachers use when talking to you about how your child is learning to read.

  • alphabetic knowledge – Knowing the names and shapes of the letters of the alphabet
  • big books – Oversized books that allow for the sharing of print and illustrations with children.
  • blending – Putting together individual sounds to make spoken words.
  • developmental spelling – The use of letter-sounding relationships information to attempt to  write words.
  • emergent literacy – The view that literacy learning begins at birth and is encouraged through participation with adults in meaningful reading and writing activities.
  • environmental print – The view that literacy learning begins at birth and is encouraged through participation with adults in meaningful reading and writing activities.
  • experimental writing – Efforts by young children to experiment with writing by creating pretend and real letters and by organizing scribbles and marks on paper.
  • invented spelling – See developmental spelling.
  • literacy – Includes all that activities involved in speaking, listening, reading, writing, and appreciating both spoken and written language.
  • phonemes – The smallest parts of spoken language that combine to form words.  For example, the word hit is made up for three phonemes (/h/ /i/ /t/) and differs by one phoneme from the words pit, hip and hot.
  • phonemic awareness  – The ability to notice and work with the individual sounds in spoken language.
  • phonological awareness – The understanding that spoken language is made up of individual and separates sounds.  In addition to phonemes, phonological awareness activities can involve work with rhymes, words, sentences, and syllables.
  • pretend reading – Children’s attempts to “read” a book before they have learned to read.  Usually children pretend read a  familiar book that they have practically memorized.
  • print awareness – Knowing about print and books and how they are used.
  • segmentation – Taking spoken words apart sound by sound.
  • spoken language – The language used in talking and listening; in contrast to written language, which is the language used in writing and reading.
  • syllable – A word part that contains a vowel or, in spoken language, a vowel sound
  • vocabulary – The words we must know in order to communicate effectively.  Oral vocabulary refers to words that we use in speaking or recognize in listening.  Reading vocabulary refers to words we recognize or use in print.