Attention parents! A study has found that early exposure to language may improve your three-year-old toddler's ability to recognise and follow important rules and pattern of governing how letters in the particular language fit together to make words.
Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis in Missouri, United States suggested new evidence that children start to learn about some aspects of reading and writing at an early age.
"Our results show that children begin to learn about the statistics of written language, for example about which letters often appear together and which letters appear together less often, before they learn how letters represent the sounds of a language," said study co-author Rebecca Treiman.
An important part of learning to read and spell is learning about how the letters in written words reflect the sounds in spoken words.
They analysed the spellings of 179 children from the United States aged three years, two months to five years and six months, who were pre-phonological spellers -when asked to try to write words, the children used letters that did not reflect the sounds in the words they were asked to spell, which is common and normal at this age.
The older prephonological spellers showed more knowledge about English letter patterns than did the younger prephonological spellers.
The findings are important, Treiman said, because they show that exposure to written words during the three-to-five-year age range may be important in getting children off to a strong start with their reading, writing and spelling skills.
"Our results show that there is change and improvement with age during this period before children produce spellings that make sense on the basis of sound." Treiman said.
It opens up the possibility that educators could get useful information from children's early attempts to write- information that could help to show whether a child is on track for future success or whether there might be a problem, he explained.
The research appears in the journal Child Development.