“To make sense of written language, young learners need to acquire a general knowledge about reading and writing as representations of ideas, knowledge, and thoughts, as well as an understanding of how print works. Sensitivity to print in the environment is a significant first step toward developing an understanding of what it means to be a reader and writer. Print concepts are the conventions that govern written language, such as spaces between words, directionality, and punctuation” (Galda, Cullinan, and Strickland, 1997).
Children learn concepts of print by interacting with print in meaningful ways. As children become aware of the words in their environment, they have to learn that what one says can be written, what is written conveys meaning, and what is written remains the same each time you read it. In addition to learning that what is said can be written, children also have to learn that print follows certain rules: i.e., we read from left to right and from top to bottom; we leave spaces between words; words make up sentences; we start new sentences with a capital letter and end them with a punctuation mark, etc. Teachers can help children develop these skills by providing a print-rich environment that allows children to utilize print for meaning: center labels, graphs, charts, names, dictation, morning message, etc. In addition, teachers need to model and help children create their own print in meaningful activities throughout the day. By providing print and materials to create and interact with print throughout the day, teachers can talk with children about how print works. Teachers can also provide children with support in learning about concepts of print by conducting shared reading events with children. While reading, teachers should draw attention to the parts of the book (e.g. front, back, spine), talk about the author and the illustrator, and point to words as they read.