Print-rich Preschool Environment

How exposing kids to the written word helps them to read

print rich preschool classroom
In this print-rich preschool classroom, words can be found everywhere. Neil Beckerman

If you are in the process of choosing a preschool for your little one, you may want to consider one that offers print-rich classrooms. In a print-rich preschool environment, preschoolers are exposed to a host of different materials geared at reading and writing. Not only are the materials readily available for little ones to access as they wish, but their use are encouraged on an organic level -- their utilization comes naturally, through lessons and play.

One of the best ways to get preschoolers on the path to reading is to introduce them to as many examples of the written word possible. When immersed and surrounded by all sorts of words and letters in different forms, kids not only become more familiar (and therefore more comfortable) with words and letters, they also begin to recognize simple words and what they can be used for. 

And while in a preschool that contains print-rich classrooms there could be some type of instruction going on geared at letters and reading, because of the natural exposure to all things written, kids will learn on their own in their own time simply by being made aware of their existence. 

Materials in this type of classroom can range from books to magazines to signs to words on toys. When it comes to choosing materials that have words and letters on them, the more the better, especially if the children are encouraged to use them.

To help children make connections, the key is to use plenty of labels, so if a child sees a word often enough they'll eventually make the connection. For example, if there is a label that says "door" on the preschool classroom door, the child will soon remember that "d-o-o-r" means "door."

Other forms of materials that encourage literacy are:

  • Word cards (with illustrations so non-readers can identify what they are seeing)
  • Word walls (with illustrations so non-readers can identify what they are seeing)
  • Paper and writing instruments -- crayons, markers, pencils, etc -- that can be used whenever a child likes
  • Calendars -- monthly, weekly, daily
  • A welcoming reading corner or area with more than enough reading materials (books and magazines) and chairs. Bookshelves should be low to the ground so little ones can reach them, and all book spines should be facing out. Picture books with simple words that let pre-readers figure out what is being said are especially helpful in a print-rich preschool classroom. 
  • Labels identifying different things in the classroom -- for example, books, door, window, etc.
  • White board, chalk board, or black board where children can help write words
  • Attendance chart
  • Birthday list
  • Toys and games that contain words such as a play kitchen that has labeled food and a pad for taking orders at a "restaurant", a pretend doctor's kit that includes a pretend prescription pad, or any other type of pretend play station where items are clearly labeled. 

    The possibilities are endless. The ultimate goal of a print-rich preschool environment is to explore the written world while building up enough confidence to start to read and write themselves.

    In a preschool classroom, when it comes to books and literacy materials, the motto should be, "the more the merrier."

    Also Known As: literacy-rich environment, print-rich classroom

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