Have you ever heard the term logograph? A logograph can be a letter, symbol, or sign used to represent a word or phrase. Think about all of the signs and logos we see every day. We instantly know what they mean without actually reading the individual words. Have you ever been driving in the car with your young child who is not yet reading in the backseat when they call out “I want Dunkin Donuts!” as you pass a drive-thru? They are not reading “Dunkin Donuts” on the sign, but are instead looking at the large orange and pink “DD” as you drive by. When thinking about reading, the logographic stage of reading development according to Frith (1985) consists of instant recognition of familiar words and is a crucial stage as children begin to transition from emergent readers to phonetic or alphabetic readers. In this stage, children begin to build associations between graphics or salient features of printed words and the unanalyzed spoken words. Think back to the example of Dunkin Donuts- they are not necessarily sounding out each letter to form the words “Dunkin” and “Donuts”, but are instead recognizing it as a whole and interpreting it based on previous experience.
The logographic stage typically develops around the age of 2 ½ to 3 years. Surprisingly, it takes almost little to no effort to help your child become familiar and recognize print that are a part of your environment. So how can you build your child’s awareness of print in their environment? Here are some simple ways to incorporate print awareness into your daily routine without much effort.
- Driving in the car. A lot of us spend a lot of time in the car. When driving with your little one, point out signs as your drive them and talk about what they mean. This can be stop or yield signs, restaurant signs (ahem, Dunkin Donuts), billboards, etc. Whatever you pass on the street, take a brief moment to look at it with your child and talk about it. This also helps with keeping them entertained in the car!
- At the grocery store (or Target). Before we even get into the stores, children can learn the logos of the name. Bulls-eye? Target. Once in the stores, point out the signs for the aisles, the signs posted around the store (think restroom signs or signs marking specific areas), as well as the individual items you pass. Printed text is everywhere!