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10.4: Language and Literacy Assessment and Instruction Practices in the Primary Years

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    Early educators in kindergarten and the early primary grades continue to integrate the ongoing assessment practices described in Chapter 6 and the instructional practices described in Chapters 7, 8, and 9. As children progress, they build upon these practices by integrating additional assessments that help them capture and document children’s growing knowledge and skills. They use what they learn from these assessments to adapt their instructional practices to move children toward conventional reading and writing.

    Informal assessment practices remain essential in documenting the children’s early literacy expressions. Educators also begin incorporating additional literacy assessments into their instructional routines. Formal assessments like the Developmental Reading Assessment (Beaver & Carter, 2019) and PALS (Invernezzi et al., 2004) continue to offer insight into children’s progressing literacy skills, including specific information regarding children’s increasing language expressions, phonological awareness, vocabulary knowledge, comprehension, linguistic fluency, and writing. Educators continue to use formal and informal assessments in complementary ways to create holistic understandings of children’s literacy growth. In turn, assessment remains an important practice shaping early educators’ curricular decisions and the literacy opportunities children experience.

    As children’s language and conventional literacy skills develop, educators and families continue to play an important role in providing children with learning experiences that promote their language and literacy development. To enhance development, educators assess their children and learn more about their strengths and needs. They then use the information they gather to plan and implement instruction intentionally designed to develop children’s language and literacy knowledge and skills throughout the school day and at home. By providing instruction that supports individual children’s language and literacy progressions, educators ensure that each child has opportunities to continue to develop their language and literacy knowledge and skills. These opportunities are provided when educators (a) create an environment that supports reading and writing; (b) build on children’s prior knowledge, experiences, and interests; (c) integrate reading and writing into play; (d) infuse reading and writing across the curriculum; and (e) provide diverse instructional reading and writing experiences (see Table 10.1).

    Table 10.1 “Language and Literacy Instructional Practices in the Primary Years”

    Create an Environment That Supports Language and Literacy

    • Create inviting and accessible spaces for children to read, write, and communicate with each other.
    • Provide a variety of reading and writing materials that reflect children’s diversities and encourage curious exploration.
    • Display children’s writings and expressions prominently.
    • Provide children access to nonfiction and fiction text materials.

    Build on Children’s Prior Knowledge, Experiences, and Interests

    • Engage families in children’s literacy experiences.
    • Encourage children to use their home languages and integrate their home culture and family experiences into the classroom.
    • Access children’s funds of knowledge by incorporating activities that activate children’s prior knowledge.
    • Provide experiences that promote conversation and provide authentic reasons to communicate, read, and write.

    Provide Diverse instructional Language and Literacy Experiences Across the Curriculum

    • Schedule time for reading and writing instruction and provide opportunities throughout the day for children to read and write independently and with support.
    • Provide opportunities for children to talk, read, and write with others.
    • Model language, reading, and writing by engaging in shared literacy experiences, including read alouds, shared reading, shared writing, and conversations.
    • Create authentic purposes for children to read, write, and communicate for a variety of purposes.
    • Provide explicit instruction as well as opportunities for children to explore language, reading, and writing.
    • Scaffold children’s language and literacy development through intentional interactions that develop their language and literacy knowledge and skills.
    • Provide opportunities for children to use listening, speaking, reading, and writing to learn content across the curriculum, including in mathematics, reading, science, and social studies.
    • Use children’s conversations and writing to assess their content knowledge.

    This page titled 10.4: Language and Literacy Assessment and Instruction Practices in the Primary Years is shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Sandra Carrie Garvey (Remixing Open Textbooks with an Equity Lens (ROTEL)) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.